Great article on how to manage conflicts, and there WILL be conflicts – it’s normal. BUT avoid saying “but” and do wait til you cool off to discuss and make up. A public place is sometimes easier, because it forces you to be polite. Touching your partner builds an emotional bridge between you… DO look in their eyes.
The goal is to keep the relationship strong, NOT to have the last word. Being right and alone is not a “win-win” scenario…
WSJ: According to Dr. Shorey, of Widener University, there are five steps to a successful “makeup.” And they revolve around one central question that each person must ask the other: “What do you need from me?”
The first step: Wait to talk. “You don’t want to have a discussion while the other person is still hot,” Dr. Shorey says. “I can’t tell you how many people will think it’s better to say right away: ‘I’m sorry. I was a jerk.’ And the other person says, ‘Yes, you were.’ And then the argument escalates again.”
If the other person is really trying to avoid a discussion altogether, wait until things have calmed down and then say, “I’d like to talk.” If the argument was really intense, he suggests making up in a public place, such as a restaurant. And never have these discussions in front of the kids.
Next, give up the idea of being right. Don’t focus on the examples or details from the fight; those will be right or wrong depending on your perspective. Instead, focus on the other person’s feelings. “What can never be wrong is how the other person feels,” Dr. Shorey says.
Third, mirror the other person’s position by verbalizing your understanding of how he or she feels. This helps you focus on the other person’s needs. For example, you can say: “I understand you are hurt because I went out without you last night.” And ask if you are correct.
“A lot of people don’t want to apologize because they don’t want to admit that they did anything wrong,” Dr. Shorey says. A good approach: “I am sorry I upset you. I don’t think there is anything wrong with me going out last night, but I can see why you feel hurt and how it would be better for me not to go because I don’t want you to feel bad.”
An important point here: Never use the word “but” in an apology. “I am sorry, but…” undermines the entire purpose.
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