Action Catalyst Blog

How to Fight Fair

Great relationships don’t come from the absence of conflict but for developing an agreeable pattern for how to resolve conflict.

Recently, I had the opportunity to share some of my “Rules of Relationship Conflict” on the News Channel 5 popular morning show  “Talk of the Town” (watch the live video here).

If you care about someone, then consider adopting these 5 rules as part of the way you communicate with them when you are trying to resolve a conflict:

Rule #1: Don’t yell. 

Adding emotion clouds the clarity of what actually happened. If the other person is yelling, it becomes especially important that you don’t raise your voice so as to prevent a natural escalation of competing interests.

Rule #2: Be open to the idea that you made a mistake even if you are sure you did not.

People rarely get upset for no reason, so there is a good chance that there is at least a kernel of truth to what they are saying.

Rule #3: Don’t speak in generalities of another person’s behavior; speak only to direct examples and instances of action. 

It’s hard for anyone to own up to a generalization and so you’ll likely just see his or her defensiveness activate. By isolating an instance of fact, everyone can quickly see where he or she was right and wrong.

Rule #4: Always work to be the first to apologize when any dispute arises.

Although the idea of waiting for the other person to apologize first seems vindicating, it’s actually a guaranteed sign of how you care more about being right than in coming to a reconciliation.

Rule #5: Focus on trying to discover what’s right, not who is right. 

When thinking about what happened, try to remove yourself from the situation and evaluate right and wrong based solely on the actions that took place regardless of which side you’re on. Treat it as if you are refereeing someone else’s game.

If we are fighting with someone, it means we both care about finding the best course of action and we both care about preserving the relationship. If we didn’t care about one another, then we would just ignore each other and leave.

The reason these 5 rules are important is because as long as they are in place, then no disagreement or conflict will ever shake the critical bedrock of knowing that the other person cares about you. As long as we know the other person cares about us, it will give us a common ground to work from as we try to unite two seemingly conflicted views.


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