This is Part 2 of the ‘Benefits to a Disagreement’ post – to see part one, click here. We’ll continue with the third tip on having effective disagreements.
3. Slow down the pace of your words and delivery
Many arguments can be hijacked if an off-the-cuff, rapid, and sometimes thoughtless, comment was made. One way to slow down is to pay attention to your breathing. Is it rapid, shallow or are you holding your breath?
A mindfulness breathing technique called Lazy 8 Breathing is helpful in staying present and delaying reactivity. Imagine an 8 sideways and breathe in and out as you trace the 8 in your mind, giving equal time to each circle on the 8.
In a workshop I gave recently one young man found that this worked well for him, he excitedly shared that this worked for him and that he would use this instead of arguing then leaving the house for hours, which caused even more problems. Instead, he believed he could use this to cool down and remain at home.
There are many mindfulness resources on the web. Find one that works the best for you.
Many couples make the error of repeatedly pointing out what’s wrong or how much they disagree, versus putting an equal or greater amount of energy how they could solve the issue or what they could do differently. Solutions may take the form of enhanced collaboration, compromising, learning new strategies to address the issues, or seeking outside help. Be open to possibility versus how bad the problem is.
5. Stick to the subject at hand without veering off into past or other related or even unrelated issues
Commonly couples complicate and confound the present issue by bringing up old hurts, old disagreements or past problems. This leads to a never ending cycle, as existing disagreements gets buried in old disagreements.
A great rule of thumb is to understand that new problems cannot be handled effectively in the context of old unsolved problems. Again, this leads to a pile up of issues, which can get overwhelming and thus never gets resolved. When disagreements get convoluted couples end up not even knowing where they started, where they’re going and what exactly they’re trying to achieve.
Try to maintain clarity and work to resolve the current issue successfully. Then set a mutually agreed upon time to revisit old issues slowly if necessary. You may find that you feel more confident and have better tools making it easier to address old issues.
I hope you will work to incorporate these techniques the next time a disagreement or an argument arises. Remember sometimes disagreements can be viewed as an opportunity to learn new ways of being and responding. Keep in mind, however, if you are experiencing repeatedly severe arguments, this is potentially an abusive situation and you should safely seek professional help.
I would love to hear your feedback. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re experiencing difficulties with your partner and working through these tips doesn’t help enough, it may be time to get outside help. Contact me to have a free 10-minute consultation.
Stay tuned for my next 5 tips for reducing the potential destructive nature of arguments and rather how to gain the benefits.