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We all get into arguments and conflicts in life, whether it is with parents, friends, co-workers, or partners. Which means knowing how to solve arguments is a great skill to have. If you don’t learn how to resolve conflicts, you will constantly get into arguments, ruin relationships, and live a fairly chaotic life. Ben was no exception to this principle.
If you have a girlfriend or boyfriend, you might get into an argument with them occasionally. Unfortunately, Ben got into an argument with his partner nearly every day. Both of the sides kept making conclusions, Ben thought his partner was cheating on him and his partner thought Ben never tried to understand her. Things continued this way for several years until Ben came across an ad that was advertising a conflict resolution course.
The course was being held right next to his office, so he took a short break to attend it and see what they did. Fortunately, the 20 minutes he devoted to the course taught him a lot. Moving forward, Ben did the things listed below to resolve conflicts and arguments with his partner.
1. Share your facts
Facts are less controversial, more persuasive, and less insulting than conclusions, so lead with them first.
Whenever they got into an argument, Ben started off by stating what he knew. If he thought his partner was cheating on him, he would say something that his partner did that might have been suspicious (e.g meet with a male friend). You should always start with facts since they can not be disputed and are not offensive to the other side.
2. Tell your story – Explain the situation from your point of view.
After stating facts, tell your side of things without attacking the other side. Tell them your story and why you believe what you believe. As stated in the example above, if Ben’s partner had met with a male friend, Ben can say “When you met with your male friend, I felt uncomfortable since you seemed to be really close with him.”
Trying to form empathy and tell your story will soften the other side. They will become more flexible and empathic towards you. However, never accuse someone or attack the other side while telling your story, that kind of behavior will backfire.
3. Ask for the other person’s side
Ask for the other person’s side of the situation, what they intended, and what they want.
While telling your story is helpful, it is also important to ask for the other person’s perspective. It will help you understand the other person and gain a clear understanding of the problem. For example, if Ben tried to understand his partner’s side of things, he would learn that the male friend he was uncomfortable with was his partner’s brother. Which would resolve the whole conflict without both of the sides getting hurt. While asking them questions never interrogate or sound like you’re accusing them.
4. Talk tentatively – avoid conclusions, judgments, and ultimatums.
One of the worst things you can do in relationships is to arrive at conclusions, give ultimatums, and judge the other side right away. Doing the things listed above creates resentment and removes any chances of forming empathy and mutual satisfaction.
Ben had a horrible and chaotic relationship because he kept making instant judgments and giving ultimatums like “I never want to see you meet with that boy again.” As stated above, if Ben had not given an ultimatum or arrived at an instant conclusion, he would learn that the male that met with his partner was her brother.
5. Encourage testing
Make suggestions, ask for input, and discuss until you reach a productive and mutually satisfactory course of action.
In Ben’s case, after the argument, he can make suggestions for moving forward. Suggestions like “Let’s both tell our sides of things before arriving at conclusions.” He can then proceed to ask what his partner thinks about the suggestion. By doing so, they will not only resolve the problem but also avoid future problems.
Final note: If you want the tips above to work, you must adopt an empathic attitude. As stated above, never accuse the other side or attack them. Try your best to not arrive at a conclusion till you hear the other side’s story.
Book: The Personal MBA
Notice: The characters and stories above are fictional.