Conflict can be Avoided
We have all been in a situation where we find ourselves in an argument faster than we can blink and for a reason we don't understand. This article is going to explore a hypothetical yet very realistic interaction between Jim and Kate. Then discuss why the argument took place and how it could have been avoided.
The Goal of this article is to help you avoid even one argument with a significant other or your teenage/adult child.
Jim walks in the door after a long day of work and says and asks "What are we having for dinner?"
His wife Kate immediately takes offense and begins to yell defensively about all of the things she has had to do that day.
Jim is confused as to why Kate reacted like that to his question but is low on patience after a long day and responded to yelling with some yelling of his own.
Thing spiral downward from here to the point where Kate is shouting about how Jim doesn't care about her.
What happened? Have you found yourself in a similar situation? perhaps you have fallen into an argument with a teenager and you never could figure out why.
Why it happened
"The reality is that perception is reality" - Unknown
Jim had just gotten home from work and was hungry so he asked about dinner.
Kate had planned to have a nice dinner ready when Jim got home because she knew he had a long day.
When Kate heard Jim's question about food, she perceived that he was angry. A tiny bit of guilt or frustration for not being able to pull off what she was hoping to triggered a negative emotional reaction. She was unable to see that Jim's intent behind asking about dinner was not out of anger or frustration with the lack of food being immediately ready, but simply a question. He may have even chosen to follow it up with a suggestion for ordering pizza.
Jim was not clear enough in the way he asked his question that left the door open for interpretation.
Jim had a good intention but poor delivery
Kate had a good intention but reacted negatively
How to Fix it
Speak to perceptions, Listen for intent
There is a simple, memorable formula for reminding us how to communicate more effectively and avoid blow out arguments.
Any time you open your mouth to talk, be careful to speak to the perceptions of the person you are talking to. This means you have to understand them. You have to pay attention to the world they find themselves in and begin to understand the experiences that inform everything they hear.
When you are listening, do your best not to place your own perceptions on what is being said. Again try and place yourself in the other person's shoes. Listen for their intention behind what is being said. If the other person has not communicated to the point of the intention being obvious, do your best to give the benefit of the doubt.
Remember: Speak to their perceptions, and Listen for their intent.
If Jim or Kate had been able to do this the entire argument could have been avoided and they may have ended up going out for a nice dinner and had a much more enjoyable evening.
Thanks for reading my article, I hope you have learned something new that will help you avoid that next argument.
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