Expressing Your Feelings In a Disagreement

As much as we’d all like to sail through life peacefully with never a cross word said by us or to us we all know that this is impossible.

Even the happiest of relationships, be they personal or professional, experience conflict or disagreement from time to time and, managed correctly, it is a healthy component of any partnership as it allows both parties to air their views and to hopefully reach a solution that will further strengthen the relationship.

Why Arguing Doesn’t Work

If you have ever witnessed an argument from the ‘outside’, you’ll no doubt have simply heard a load of screaming, lots of anger being vented and very little resolution at the end. Arguments can be very destructive. Nothing ever seems to get resolved and many of the valid points either side might have to make tend to get lost amidst the shouting and personal attacks which are often vindictive and vicious.

Arguments tend to occur because either party has built up resentment over the other’s behaviour or standpoint over a period of time until it erupts in the form of a verbal confrontation. However, the important thing is to try to resolve these differences calmly as both parties are then more likely to be able to understand the other side’s viewpoint a lot more clearly and this is far more likely to result in a successful resolution to both parties, even if that might mean compromise on the side of one or both parties.

A Calm Approach

If you are faced with a difficult situation which will possibly involve a conflict of opinion with somebody else, it’s important that you try to keep calm and not to over-react.

Often when people ‘lash out’ during an argument, that’s their way of letting the other person know exactly how they feel. However, rarely is that productive because it shows a lack of self-control but it’s often far more powerful and effective to actually communicate those feelings calmly and honestly and to do that when the dust has settled somewhat. Try not to lose control and try to be specific about the issues which are causing you to feel aggrieved.

Speak slowly and don’t move on to other issues until each issue is discussed individually first. Ask the other person not to interrupt as you go through the issues but allow them the courtesy of a response to each issue before moving onto the next point.

Stick to your specific grievances and don’t allow your discussion to become a series of personal attacks. Explain how the actions of the person made you feel but don’t resort to accusations as this can often inflame the situation and force the other person into defending themselves which, in turn, can lead to arguments. Be specific and don’t generalise or exaggerate your grievances. By blowing things up out of all proportion or moving off on a tangent, it will prevent the real issues you have from being listened to and considered. Don’t use the session to reel off a list of old injustices from way back when. You’ll end up arguing about the validity of facts from possibly years ago which will do nothing to help your current cause.

It is, however, worth remembering at all times that in order to reach a solution or compromise to your disagreement, it is a two-way affair and so you must allow the other person sufficient time to answer any of the issues you’ve raised.

The important things in any conflict resolution is to determine what it is that is actually bothering you and what you’d ideally like the other person to do or not to do as a result of discussing things with them. Know what your goals are and the possible resolutions that may be acceptable to you. It’s also important to set aside some time for the discussion so that it can be conducted in a calm manner. A rational approach to resolving your differences is unlikely to work if either of you are feeling emotionally fraught at the time you sit down.

Mutual Understanding

It’s not about ‘winning’ but about reaching a satisfactory solution that is mutually agreed to by both of you and allowing the other person to also suggest a possible compromise solution if you are both unable to reach an agreement.

Compromise is not a sign of weakness but a sign of maturity and, whilst you may not feel you can compromise on certain issues, most disagreements tend to be more amicably resolved if there’s a little give and take on both sides.

Always remember that disagreements and conflict, whilst not always pleasant, are, however, a fundamental part of life. They are inevitable from time to time and, managed well, are often simply the mechanism which allows us to get over a particular hurdle and to move on positively.

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