3 Tips to Avoid Turning Relationship Conflict in to a Fight
Every relationship has conflict — it’s unavoidable. But not all disagreements need to become a fight. Easier said than done, right?
In my clinical work, I help neurodiverse, queer and polyamorous couples argue less, communicate better and connect more. Today I’m sharing some tips to help all relationships — including family and friendships — avoid turning a disagreement into an all-out fight.
You’ll likely find these work best if both partners are using the strategies, but you’ll still see a change in your shared communication if you alone start using some of these skills. So let’s dive in!
First I gotta address a habit that’s guaranteed to make things worse:
1. Cut out the Always, Nevers and All The Times
During a disagreement, things can feel pretty black and white
“You leave dirty dishes in the sink all the time.”
“You always come home late.”
“You never want to spend time together.”
But this black and white language is a quick road to pouring gasoline on a conflict leading to an explosion.
These black and white words trigger our partner’s defensiveness and feelings of being misunderstood. It may be true that you’re feeling upset about a pattern of behavior, but using this language is unlikely to get you the change that you’re seeking.
Instead, your partner will likely feel defensive and point to an exception where this wasn’t the case. Next thing you know, you’re arguing about semantics instead of sharing feelings and coming to a resolution.
Instead, share observations of recent events or patterns that are emerging.