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Life-hack - Relationship Communication (Try This To Avoid The Next Argument)

By Edited Aug 10, 2016 4 13

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. 

What happened?

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.

Argument

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.

dinner

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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Comments

Feb 28, 2014 5:35am
BoomerBill
Wise advice.
Mar 10, 2014 6:46am
jacobfields
I try. However most of my advice comes from personal experience of what not to do. ;) Thanks for the compliment
Feb 28, 2014 8:54pm
jny986
Great Advise.
Not Easy but worth it.
Mar 10, 2014 6:44am
jacobfields
Thanks for the comment
Mar 10, 2014 6:41am
parlay
Understanding the other person is worth its weight in gold.
Mar 10, 2014 6:44am
jacobfields
So true Parlay. Thanks for the Comment
Mar 11, 2014 10:47pm
sharmapk752
Nice advice!
Mar 12, 2014 11:25am
jacobfields
Thanks. Be sure to share it with some friends!
Mar 29, 2014 2:00am
shar-On
My mum and dad are fiery sort of people at times. But they have help, it is quite funny actually. Their Blue heeler starts to bark or whine if they raise their voices, so it breaks the tension. He is such a funny dog and so quick to react to any type of situation.

He would do anything to protect them, and such a pleasant companion too. So maybe others can train their dogs to do the same. Although he was not trained. He just seems to do things that amaze us all.
Mar 29, 2014 7:53am
jacobfields
Dogs are great at sensing emotion and the certainly do not like it when their people argue. Thanks for sharing that part of your life.
Apr 24, 2014 8:34am
amplifred
I've been reading a book about neurological functioning in couple's therapy ("Emotional Intelligence in Couple's Therapy" by Brent J. Atkinson). It basically states that these knee-jerk reactions are a product of evolutionary responses in our brain that by-pass cognitive reasoning. So, in this case, Kate may have developed a strong sense of fear early in life about the potential of losing someone close (maybe based on an absent father), which is triggered the moment she feels as if she has let down her partner. She responds negatively without even understanding WHY she feels the way she does.

Conversely, Jim may have responded to Kate's reaction the way he did because of conditioned rage which serves its evolutionary purpose of self-protection.

Therefore, in order for a couple like Jim and Kate to react differently towards each other, they have to essentially rewire their brains' response mechanisms - a task which requires extreme dedication and potentially even coaching through therapy.

Anyway, I enjoy this article. I hope to see more of these from you in the future! Great Job!

-Abby
Apr 24, 2014 9:14am
jacobfields
Abby,

You are exactly right. Most likely their reactions come from deep seeded emotional places that are rooted in early childhood or human nature for survival and it does essentially require a rewiring. I am a strong advocate for counseling in relationships even ones where things are mostly good. The choices we make on a daily basis effect the continual rewiring of our brains that is always happening. Changing ones perspective, and being more conscious of how we respond to others can start that process and transform the way we communicate.

This article is the one I have gotten the greatest response from, so I will be glad to offer more relationship type articles in the future. I work in ministry and relationships are an essential part of my world... really all of ours... and I hope that I have more wisdom that others can derive.

- Jacob
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