“Fighting Fair” When Disagreements Arise

“Fighting Fair” When Disagreements Arise

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Recovery

by Erin Oden, ASW, Clinical Director

We as human beings are hardwired to seek meaningful relationships. Going back to the dawn of mankind, it was unsafe to be a lone wolf, so getting along with others was crucial. Today, it is just as essential to create and maintain intimate friend and love relationships as ever. That being said, relationships are hard to maintain – we all have different personalities and communication styles, not to mention varying values and goals. With so many factors at play within our interpersonal relationships, it is no wonder that we fall short from time to time, in the communication of our needs. Arguments are inevitable and ultimately can lead to hurt feelings and even the demise of relationships. In efforts to help you in maintaining the peace, here are 5 ways to fight fair within your relationships:


Step back, take a deep breath and remind yourself what your ultimate goal is. It is easy to get wrapped up in the immediate emotions and lose sight of what you really want out of the conversation and/or relationship.

Use “I” statements

By using statements with the ‘I message’ protocol, you have less risk of placing the other person on the defense. I statements are said as follows:

I feel….. (feeling word – sad, lonely, hurt, understood, happy),

when…. (what caused the feeling).

What I would like is if…. (tell the person what you would appreciate in the future).

*Example: I feel worried when I wait at home for you to arrive. I would really appreciate it if you could call me and let me know your ETA if you are running late.

Do not Label or Name Call

Remember to address the issues, not each other. By labeling people you show them that you do not see them as whole and complex human beings. Labels are often over-generalizations of a population and can be at best critical and at worst discriminatory. People are never just one thing: a daughter, an alcoholic, an addict, or struggling. And they can be hurt by being called names such as lazy, boring, blonde, or jerk.

Acknowledge Your Part

“It takes two to tango.” By taking responsibility for your own actions, you are opening a path for your loved ones to put down their defenses and acknowledge their areas for growth, as well.

Practice acceptance and compassion

“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” -Dalai Lama.

Remember, just because someone does things differently than you do, does not mean s/he is wrong. Take some time to recognize that no two people are brought up with the same lessons taught or experiences had. We are all individuals with complex histories. If you take some time to empathize with the person you are struggling to understand, you will find yourself feeling lighter in heart and less inclined to quarrel.

All in all, when you are arguing with someone, it is most likely because you are invested in the relationship. While the topic at hand may be a big deal at the moment, don’t forget that your relationship is worthy of fighting for too!





by Erin Oden, ASW, Clinical Director