In relationships, everyone responds to conflict differently. The vast majority of these responses can be summed up as either fight or flight. You're either the "runaway bride" looking feverishly for an exit and a way to avoid the conflict OR you're "Muhammad Al-leena" ready to duke it out as soon as he crosses the proverbial line. In and of itself, conflict is not a bad thing. It's how you and your partner choose to handle the conflict that classifies it as healthy or unhealthy. So let's get to the "how". Conflict often gives rise to arguments. When it does, don't preoccupy yourself with "winning" the argument. If you get stuck on trying to win the argument you're more likely to implore some under handed techniques to secure your win. This will in turn bring about more conflict and escalate the argument. Remember, the goal is to resolve the conflict NOT win the argument. I titled this entry "fight fair" because the title resonates. But truthfully, you should try not to see conflict as a chance to "fight" but rather an opportunity to collaborate on a solution. So here are a few tips to ensure a good, clean, "collaboration":
- Don't rehash the Past!: As tempting as it is to bring up what he/she did 3 months ago that ended in an unresolved argument, don't do it. It's like adding fuel to the fire!
- No Below the Belt: You know his/her insecurities like the back of your hand. So don't take this as an opportunity to exploit them. Remember that when they're not driving you crazy, you do actually love this person.
- #$%#@!!: Try to keep the expletives and name calling to a minimum. Easier said than done, I know. But do you really want to work something out with someone hurling the "F-bomb" at you?? Probably not, so don't do it to them.
- Listen...REALLY listen: Try to focus first on understanding their point of view. Ask questions if you don't understand something they are trying to express. Then turn the tables and ask them to listen for understanding from you.
- Win/Win: Okay this is business talk, but it works! Both of you should focus on finding a solution to the conflict that is a "win" for the both of you. Don't stop at "compromise" because someone usually has to give something up. Go for the "win/win" instead!