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Employee Assistance Program

Wellness Tips » Fair Fighting Rules

  1. Be assertive rather than aggressive (getting the other person no matter the cost).
  2. Don't be afraid to apologize when you are wrong. It shows you are trying.
  3. Stay in the now; be careful of bringing up the past. "When you are late for dinner, I feel angry. I want everything to be warm and tasty," rather than "You are late for dinner again and I don't care if it is cold. I remember last year on our vacation you did exactly the same thing".
  4. Remember, it is not who is right, but what is right. Attempt to find a solution in which each person feels as though they both made their points in a positive manner.
  5. Avoid judgment. Stay with self-responsible "I" messages versus blaming "You" messages.
  6. Don't argue about details. Avoid exchanges like, "You were 20 minutes late," "No, I was only 13 minutes late." (An easy way to distract from the problem.)
  7. Don't assign blame. It provokes the other person to automatically become defensive and the focus of the problem becomes lost.
  8. Honesty needs to be stern. Go for accuracy rather than perfection, state the facts.
  9. Try to come up with solutions rather than to wear each other down. Fighting takes energy and it is very easy to simply say "OK, you win" and walk off. This creates more tension and nothing has been resolved.
  10. Use active listening. Repeat to the other person what you heard them say. Get their agreement about what you heard them say before responding. (Often times in arguments, each partner is so upset or wanting to make his/her point, they do not "hear" what the other person is actually saying.)
  11. Cooperate rather than compete. If you are in competition, your egos are likely to be involved. (Arguing over how to discipline a child can easily become an argument over who is the expert on child rearing.)
  12. Fight about one thing at a time.
    • identify a single problem
    • analyze the nature of the problem
    • suggest several possible solutions or options
    • select the best solution/option that addresses the needs of the problem and place the option into action
    • evaluate the option after it has been implemented for a specific period of time
    • if the solution/option is not working, implement another of the agreed on options

All couples have problems and fight, but they can learn to fight fairly. If an argument is about to become violent, take a "time out" immediately to cool down.