One of the things that distinguish us from one another is individuality. While this characteristic brings wonderful things like creativity, when it comes to interpersonal interactions, it is also this individuality that brings unexpected friction. Fights occur when two peopleâ€™s personalities (inclinations, preferences, temperaments, etc.) clash. When this happens, we tend to use our own frame of reference to understand the other personâ€™s behavior. The result, more often than not, is an exaggeration of the original conflict, which still persists despite all the verbal exchange.
Our values are so important to us that we spend a lot of time trying to preserve them. When fights occur, we tend to invalidate the other personâ€™s values in favor of our own because we have a bias towards ourselves. Therefore, the first thing you might want to do is just listen to the person youâ€™re arguing with. It sounds simple, but in the heat of an argument, taking the time to listen to the other personâ€™s perspective can be quite difficult. The good news is that we can train ourselves to be better at listening by starting with daily conversations. One useful standard for judging the accuracy of your understanding of others is to articulate their thoughts as you think you understand it. Ask the person for feedback on your interpretation, so that you can begin to understand other peopleâ€™s perspective when youâ€™re not in an argumentative situation.
Only after achieving this understanding, can we have a real argumentâ€”a fight that actually means something and can produce something. After making sure you understand the other personâ€™s perspective accurately, you should focus on the influence of what that person said to you. That is, how did that personâ€™s thoughts make you feel, or what part of it did you not understand, etc. Ask questions based on these feelings or thoughts that appear in your head as you achieve an understanding of the other party. Donâ€™t furnish it too much, be genuine and authenticâ€”otherwise by the end of it you wonâ€™t resolve the real problem, but a furnished, decorated one. At this point, you will should be able to sort out the components of the conflictâ€”what, exactly, was the cause of the fight. With this advance, at least now you both can strive to make the situation better. Remember, this is not about which of you is â€śrightâ€ť or whose idea is â€śbetter.â€ť This is about building a new house that fits both of you so that neither gets squished out or crushed down.
Fights are inevitable in genuine relationships. For the relationship to survive and evolve, we need to learn how to properly have a fight. And the secret to it is to listen and reproduce the otherâ€™s minds before you state your own.
By:Â Ruihong Yuan
Ruihong is a graduateÂ from University of Toronto with a major in Psychology and Physics. He is currentlyÂ looking to gain either clinical or research experiences in psychology. His goal is to become a clinical psychologist with his own practice and research in order to help people improve their lives and explore the mysterious human mind.