Online Confict Resolution
Fighting Fair -- Do You or Don't You?


How do you manage conflict with others you care about? Are you successful at finding peaceful resolutions? Are you fighting fairly? Or do you do more damage than good? Resentment is toxic to relationships and unhealthy conflict resolution skills can create a mountain of it.

Here are 10 signs you aren't fighting fair:

  • You name call or make character attacks (ie. "You're so stupid.")

  • You use global statements such as "always" or "never" (ie. You never listen to me!")

  • You go off topic to a long list of prior examples of the current issue

  • You use family traits as a weapon (i.e. "You're just like your mother!")

  • You storm out of the house or the room.

  • You ridicule or make fun of the other side's statements or feelings.

  • You "gunnysack" your resentments, storing them up and then unloading them all at once.

  • You "hit below the belt", that is don't hurt or overwhelm your partner beyond his or her ability to take it.

  • You look for allies and gang up rather than restricting the fight to the two of you.

  • You overreact -- making a big deal about a trivial issue.

Here are 15 things you can do to ensure a fair fight.

  1. The goal of any fight should be to resolve a conflict rather than to win or "come out on top". If one person feels like a loser s/he will feel resentful and distant. Rather everybody should feel like they've won something.

  2. Express your resentments as soon as you are aware of them rather than letting them build up into an explosion.

  3. Be willing to compromise. Nothing is more important in conflict resolution than the ability to compromise. Are you really standing on principle or are you just being stubborn?

  4. Communication should be as clear, direct and as open as possible. Make sure you aren't expecting people to read your mind and don't try to read anyone else's.

  5. Own your responses. Respond as much as possible with "I feel..." or "I want..." statements of your own

  6. Be sure to ask for input and feedback. Reflect on what you think the other person is saying. Often people will be fighting about different issues without being aware of it.

  7. Argue only one point at a time. Resist temptations to get off the subject. Even issues that seem related can be distracting.

  8. Make sure you're fighting about what you really want to fight about. You may be discussing "you're home late" when you're feeling "you don't love me anymore".

  9. Don't get in the middle of a fight you don't belong in.

  10. Keep and use your sense of humor. Don't let your fights be any more deadly than necessary. However, don't make light of a subject that should be taken seriously, or use jokes to put your partner down.

  11. Never fight after drinking.

  12. Sometimes leaving the situation altogether is a good idea but use a structured "time-out" rather than walking away.

  13. Be sure to admit when you are in the wrong. Sometimes an apology is all that is necessary to end an argument.

  14. If you or your partner is tired, preoccupied with another subject or not ready to fight, it may be best to put off the fight until a more opportune time. But make sure the postponement is not indefinite. Agree on a specific day and time. A couple of days or less may be a maximum if the issue is really important.

  15. Everyone fights dirty or says things that they don't mean at least occasionally. Learn to forgive, forget and start over.

For more see Fighting Fair to Resolve Conflict.

To learn more about resolving conflict, click on any of the links below.

To learn more about other conflict resolution topics, click on any of the links below.


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