How to argue constructively
Arguments can have a very positive effect on a relationship, provided that they are conscious and are about communicating with your partner.
It’s worth bearing in mind the following points during conflicts in a relationship:
- Make sure you yourself know what you’re arguing about.
It’s worth considering: what would I like this conflict to lead to? What are my deep needs and feelings in this situation? What am I no longer willing to tolerate? The better we understand ourselves, the easier it is for us to express our point of view to the other person, and the better we can manage our own aggression.
- First, express your point of view fully, really stand up for yourself, fight for what is important to you. And when you feel you have been able to do that, try to empathize with the other person, and see whether there is something you agree with him or her on. Even if it is a small thing, the ability to notice the other person loosens up communication in the relationship considerably and sometimes leads to much more effective solutions.
- During an argument, notice the changes taking place within yourself e.g. if something your partner says touches you or changes the way you see the situation, don’t keep fiercely holding on to your previous point of view.
(If you’re not able to do this, it’s worth reflecting on the general level of trust in your relationship and dealing with this issue directly.)
- If you realize during a conflict that your main aim is to hurt the other person, then take this seriously. The issue you’re fighting about is clearly not the real issue. Very often, when we want revenge, we want the other person to feel what we’re feeling – in this sense, revenge is an attempt to get closer to the other person.
Think about how you have been hurt, and consider whether you could talk about your pain, your sense of weakness or despair directly. This takes a lot of courage, but it can save both of you a lot of suffering and demonstrate your sensitivity.