Usually a small disagreement in relationships takes off into a full fledged argument when one person starts to become defensive.
Therapist Lauren Consul says there are ways to “stop and argument in its tracks”.
Consul is a couples and sex therapist who has a TikTok following of 160,000 people with 5.4 million likes.
She also teaches couples how to get past infidelity and teaches people how to survive in a marriage when one partner has been unfaithful.
“The next time you and your partner are talking, and your partner becomes defensive, I want you to do this: Pause, and say, ‘I want to understand what happened there. What did you hear me say?”, says Consul in her TikTok video.
“This question is key because it does on of two things. First, it can allow for clarification. A lot of times when we’ve become defensive, we’ve interpreted something our partner has said incorrectly. We’ve run it through a filter, we’ve told ourselves a story about it, it’s triggered something… So we’re not actually hearing what your partner says, and it allows for clarification.”
“The second thing: If your partner did interpret what you said correctly, it gives you an opportunity to slow things down and understand what is happening for them and address the underlying issue, rather than get caught in a spiral of defensiveness.”
The key in relationships is to remember this tactic in the heat of the moment which could be very difficult to do when you are feeling provoked or out of your depth.
The other problem is starting an argument with someone who is clearly wrong also bodes trouble. There are many people out there who have opinions which are not based on facts or logic and have trouble thinking critically which makes any discussion with them tricky as they have no concept of how to engage.
So what do you do. First thing is to avoid situations where there is an argument. Steven Stosny Phd says in Psychology Today that in these situations it is best to reframe the argument into a discussion.
“A discussion is a respectful exchange of information. An argument is a coercive attempt to be acknowledged as right or smart or sensitive. In arguments, we invalidate feelings and undermine perspectives. In discussions, we validate feelings and expand perspectives,” said Stosny.
The key is to listen to the other person and ask plenty of questions. This makes the other person feel heard and more likely for both of you to find common ground.
NOTE: Photo is from Facebook