Communication is difficult at the best of times. But when emotions are flaring and a problem must be solved, mistakes, sometimes big ones, can happen. So in my counseling office, we make up a list of rules for big conversations. Some people have heard of them as ‘Fighting Fair’ but that seems to say that a fight is necessary. Just because we don’t start out in agreement doesn’t mean we have to fight. We just need to dance together with a topic or a situation until a solution is found.
Rule #1-Stay on Target
Each big conversation should be focused on one topic or at least one topic at a time. If the conversation wanders, most of the time the opportunity to come together to solve the problem will be lost. Instead, the conversation can lead to blame or impasse.
Rule #2-Respect Others
Respect is a necessary part of every relationship. While it doesn’t mean that one person has to control the other, it does ensure that the relationship is protected and honored. Wondering if your conversation is respectful? Watch for name calling, stepping over each other’s words, and physical intimidation.
Rule #3-Avoid Generalities
Human beings stereotype. Its how we learn to categorize, understand and predict behavior and events. It is a great benefit BUT generalizing in individual settings is a bad idea. That is where racism, sexism, and other isms come from and these can be very damaging to relationships. “Always” and “never” typically just ensure that there will be disagreement over the facts and a block to understanding the feelings behind the communication.
All in all, if you follow these rules it doesn’t mean you will agree with each other, resolve all differences, or even like each other after the talk. But chances are, if you follow these rules, you are more likely to feel good about looking in the mirror. And that is really important. We need to be who we are, no matter what other people choose to do.
Christy Graham, LPC Supervisor is the clinical director at Acorn Counseling Education Services in Corinth. She works with all types of families, including families in crisis.This month our FaceBook Party will deal with communication in relationships. Please join us if you are interested in learning more. Or call for a 15 minute consult if you would like to understand more about counseling. 940-222-8703 ext 700.