Here is my no-nonsense approach to winning every argument, every time.
1. Pick your fights. This is a three-part process. First, pick who you are fighting with, then pick what you are fighting about, and finally decide when to bring it up. But, before you even think about bringing up an unpleasant issue, rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. Things that don’t rate as an 8, 9, or 10 are usually not worth arguing about. Instead, ask your self – 30 minutes, 30 days or 30 years from now, will I still care about this? If not, let it go.
Who? If someone is a lunatic don’t waste your time. This includes teen agers. The frontal lobe of the brain is not fully formed until age 25 so arguing with a teen ager means you are arguing with someone who has only a fraction of a brain. And, anyway, the time to win an argument with a teen ager is when they are two. That’s when you set the rules down. Whatever you taught them at two is what you will get when they are 15. With that said, keep in mind that it is critical to listen to your teenager. Give him/her a chance to convince you. (It’s good practice for them.) During those times that s/he cannot convince you, give him/her a choice between two options that you consider marginally acceptable. As to adult lunatics, stay as far away from them as possible. Minimize your dealings with crazy people. This will save you time and money. I repeat, do not argue with crazy people. Even if you win, you lose.
What? Only argue over things that can be measured. Do not argue over values and beliefs. Yesterday I got myself in an uproar trying to convince someone that her political beliefs are full of holes. HELLO! Ultimately, if she feels better believing stories designed to manipulate the masses with fear, who am I to point to reality. Values and beliefs are not negotiable. Only argue over things that can result in an action plan – you will do this, I won’t do that, etc. Leave the rest of it for the pundits.
When? If you are sure you want to go forward, think about the consequences of bringing up the topic. Timing is critical. Ask yourself is this the best time to make your point or if it would be better to shut up now and bring it up later. In any event, avoid arguing in public at all costs.
2. Fight fair. There are four simple rules for a fair fight. (1) Fight in the here and now – do not bring up things that happened in the past. (2) Listen to each other. Do not talk over someone. Instead, take turns speaking, even if you have to use a timer to make it happen. (3) Keep the focus on yourself, use “I” statements to avoid pointing the finger of blame. It’s not important what percentage of fault each of you contributed to the creation of the problem. (4) Avoid threats, name-calling, contempt, nagging, whining, and any other communication strategy that could be seen as manipulative.
3. Focus on my nine fight fundamentals.
- Find commonalities. Focus on the things you agree on. Move on from there.
- What’s in it for him/her? Instead of focusing on what you want, focus on what features and benefits the other person will receive.
- Look at the whole picture. And, then look at the details.
- Clearly state what you want/need.
- Stick to the facts.
- Give everyone time to think, process the information, and cool down.
- Speak in a language the other person understands. Don’t talk feelings to your accountant.
- Be comfortable apologizing. A genuine apology can bring about profound change and healing. Often you can come out the big winner when you apologize. An apology is one way to give the “loser” an opportunity to save face.
- Get closure and finish on the positive. Each argument ends with one of three possible outcomes:
- Agree to disagree and move on
- No agreement and horns still locked. Of course, just because you’re here now doesn’t mean this is where you’ll stay. But, this is the resolution you don’t want. Remember, there is a HUGE difference between going away unhappy and going away so angry that getting a gun sounds like a good idea. If you “win” and the other side goes home and gets his gun, you lost.
Questions? Commentary? I want to hear about your arguments and how they play out. Email me – Elinor@AFriendlyDivorce.com.
In the new economy businesses are seeking innovative ways to partner and merge with others. Partnership can bring significant benefits. However, the partnering process is often destructive and alignment is difficult to achieve. Recently I was asked why mergers are so challenging and how partners can avoid the typical merger pitfall of squashing out one team.
In almost every industry - from rock and roll bands to internet start-ups - the inability to manage conflict is a precursor to failure. Mergers are especially difficult because of the significant changes and uncertainties that go along with the transition. By their very nature mergers amplify all of the "normal" conflicts that already exist in both camps. And, typically it is not the financial or quantifiable details that destroy a partnership, its the human dynamics.
Under every human conflict someone feels dismissed, discounted, disenfranchised, or disrespected. These emotions can reek havoc during a business merger. However, since conflict management is not quantifiable or visible it is often a forgotten commodity. Stake holders typically don't realize that they need someone else to help manage conflict - until the conflict has escalated to the point of destruction.
What can you do? Bring in a professional mediator to assist with the transition. In order to avoid a crisis, it is critical that conversations are held early on, during the window of merger hope and enthusiasm, as well as along the way, when obstacles start to appear. This strategy will bring to light and immediately address any perceptions that one person or one team is being devalued - before the destructive emotions are acted out or acted upon. Clearly, in the case of a merger the best person for facilitating these conversations is a third party neutral with no prior loyalties to either side.
As a professional mediator I have seen the power of the apology first hand. Practicing the 12-Step directive to "make a list of all persons we have harmed, become willing to make amends to them all, and make direct amends wherever possible" may be one of the best life practices you can incorporate. In fact, adopting this philosophy can drastically improve your relationships. Here is what you need to know about apologies:
1. A genuine apology can be very powerful and go a long way towards repairing a relationship. Even if you don't want reconciliation, an apology can bring closure and internal peace as well as reduce the possibility of negative repercussions in the future.
2. People in the wrong are often afraid to apologize; either because they believe that an apology will make them legally liable or open them up to blame and shame. However, we know that doctors who apologize to their patients for medical mistakes don't get sued nearly as much as the ones who take a more arrogant attitude.
3. Many of the cases that end up in court - especially consumer and workplace cases - could easily be settled by someone making a decent/sincere and timely apology. The problem is - usually - both people think that they have been wronged. It's often difficult to make an apology if you think that the apology should be made to you. Avoid this trap and base your actions on the big picture. Seek to see all of your disputes from the vantage point of the person on the other side.
4. People on the receiving end of the apology are often so grateful for the apology that almost anything works. You may simply apologize for the distress that the situation has caused both of you and your contribution to creating this distress. Or, if it’s more appropriate you may want to say "I made a mistake and I am sorry. Hopefully, I will never do this again."
5. Let the receiver know that it is not your intention to re-hash the situation - ALL you want to do is apologize. However, if you get a third person involved - someone to act as the mediator - you may be able to re-define the issues involved and see the initial conflict in a different light.
6. There are 3 possible responses to any apology (a) the apology is accepted and the parties go forward with the goal of re-establishing their connection, (b) the receiver accepts the apology and the parties agree to disagree and move on - with their connection severed, or (c) the party who is receiving the apology is unable to receive it and that is the end. Even in this instance the giver of the apology can feel that s/he has done her part - "kept her side of the street clean."
7. A sincere apology is one that is made with (a) no expectations for how the other side will respond; (b) trust that if the bond between us is strong enough it will be re-established so long as we are both willing to be open and honest, and if not, not; and (c) knowledge that people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime - and we dont usually know which or why.
An apology can be magical, cleansing, and healing. Who do you need to apologize to?
For many women, the mother-daughter connection is life's most complex relationship. So it comes as no surprise that many of us struggle with the relationship that we share with our mothers and many of us struggle with the relationships that we share with our daughters. As a mediator and as a woman, I am intrigued by how the mother-daughter bond can bring both conflict and comfort. This article discusses the complex mother-daughter relationship and offers tips that both mothers and daughters can use to heal their connection.
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