One of the things we can be sure of is that we will experience disagreements in our relationships with partners or spouses at one time or another. This may lead to arguments of some sort, whether, mild or severe. An argument can be considered severe or approaching severe, when actions such as yelling, screaming, use of demeaning or disrespectful words and/or body language takes place, all of which will most often result in hurting each other deeply, rupturing or damaging relationship without seeming hope of repair, and causing serious emotional or mental harm to each individual.
So are there any benefits to be gained from having a disagreement when we know there is the potential for an argument? Learning to handle a disagreement or an argument effectively can lead to positive results, such as discovering new ways to cooperate, acquiring previously unknown problem solving skills, increased opportunities to view a problem differently, learning more effective ways to communicate, while hopefully stemming the possibility of a severe argument.
How can we gain the benefits of a disagreement and reduce its potential destructive nature? Here are 5 tips and techniques that might help:
1. Recognize your stress style of communication early on
In most cases when a disagreement arises we begin to feel strained or pressured. This may lead us fall into a specific pattern of communication in order to relieve those stressful feelings.
According to Virgina Satir, developer of the humanistic approach in family systems therapy, we generally have four(4) styles of ineffective communication; they are the Blamer, Placater, Computer or Distractor. Each is style is unproductive, with the Blamer cancelling out the feelings of others, the Placater cancelling out their own feelings, the Computer or super logical is unable or unwilling to understand another’s feelings, rather focusing solely on the facts, while the Distractor never addresses the issues.
The goal instead is to work toward being a Leveler. As the name implies. this means shifting your communication style in which your actions, feelings and language are appropriate to the situation in order to promote harmony and understanding. The next time you find yourself in a disagreement or an argument, observe your stress style of communication and see if you can work to adjust it. Note the difference and any resulting benefits.
2. Consider the concepts of honor and respect
Sounds simple but generally overlooked. I like to encourage clients, in the midst of a disagreement or upset, to note if their tone of voice, language used, or body language, is considerate and dignifying of their mate. Are you rolling your eyes, quietly shaking your head disapprovingly, making huffing sounds, pointing your finger, leaning forward in a threatening manner, using harsh or critical language, interrupting or even finishing the other person’s sentences? All of these actions are disrespectful, and dishonoring, of the other individual.
Disrespect from one individual tends to invite disrespect in one form or another from the other party, which may include the same behaviors, or ways of getting even or coping, such as isolating or giving the cold shoulder.
Once in working with an elderly couple, the wife’s main complaint was that her husband cut her off constantly when she would speak. This had happened for many years. It slowly tore at their relationship, to the point that the wife was about ready to divorce her husband.
Although there were other issues, just practicing allowing his wife to speak during sessions had many positive effects. Physically, the wife’s appearance began dramatically to improve, as she became more empowered, and felt more respected. Space opened for the couple to address other issues affecting the relationship. One small change in communicating respectfully had a huge effect on their marriage.
Check back next week for tips 3-5! Connect with Simple Therapy Now on Facebook and be tune in to the Soulful Healing radio show with host Janice Clarke on Saturday, January 18, 2014 at 3pm EST on http://www.wjfp.com or 91.1 WJFP to hear more of my thoughts on relationships.