Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tip of the Week, June 21, 2009

Photo by Walt Ratterman

I talk and talk and talk, and I haven't taught people in 50 years what my
father taught by example in one week. -- Mario Cuomo

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Conflict and Couples: Standing Up For Yourself

Remaining calm and hearing out your partner are not the only things that are important in relationships. It is also important to find ways to stand up for yourself. Giving in truly is not always the best response, even if it seems to keep the peace.

There are lots of drawbacks to giving in a lot. The biggest one, of course, is that resentment tends to build as you discover that very little is going your way.

Tim grew up in a family that was loud and angry. He often retreated to his room or to the garage just to get away from the yelling in his family. He vowed never to have a relationship like that so he avoided any kind of conflict with Terry. While Terry found that she often got her way, she also felt frustrated that Tim did not share his thoughts with her and she also noticed that he might go along with what she wanted but often did not seem very happy about it, sometimes even angry.

Tim needed to learn how to stand up for himself in calm, respectful, direct and firm ways. Here are some of the things he said has helped him.

* Tim learned to figure out in his own mind what his needs, thoughts or beliefs were. He learned to understand what it was that was important to him and the reasons for this.
* He began to hear and understand, even if he did not agree with or accept, Terry’s position.
* Tim considered her opinion and determined if there was anything that she wanted or needed that he could agree with and accept.
* He let Terry know that he heard her and respected her as a person but did not agree with her. He told her that his ideas or desires were different than hers and directly and calmly explained them.
* There were a few times that Terry tried to dismiss Tim, especially at first when she was not used to him disagreeing so directly with her. At those times, he again stood up for himself by telling her that he felt dismissed and needed for her to listen to him. There were several times that he had to do that, and eventually Terry learned that she could not always have her way about things.
* There were even a few times that Terry continued to be loud and disrespectful and Tim told her that he was not willing to continue the conversation at that point. He promised to come back to talk with her when they were both calmer and in a better place to listen to each other.

Tim got very good at sorting through the things that were important and that he needed to stand up for and what things were less important and he could lovingly let go and allow Terry’s needs to prevail.

Contact us at if you would like some coaching on how you can stand up for yourself.

Feel free to leave questions or comments here and maybe we can have some discussion about what has worked for you as you have learned to stand up for yourself.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tip of the Week, June 14, 2009

Change the time of day or the location when having a disagreement or fight. If you usually fight at night, get your partner to agree to only disagree during the daytime … and actually schedule a time for the conflict. If you generally fight in the bedroom (one of the worst places to fight) then agree to move all of your fights to the kitchen … or out to the back deck. If you have fought in every room in the house, then agree that all disagreements must be taken outside.

Changing the location and time can change the flavor and feel of the disagreement and help keep partners from falling into the bad patterns that caused problems in the past.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Conflict and Couples: How To Stay Calm

What is it about couples and conflict? How can some people listen calmly when having a disagreement with their partner?

What is their secret?

When you are criticized or attacked, the first response is often to defend yourself or fight back with counter-charges. After all, how unfair does it feel to be criticized!

Responding to a complaint by getting defensive or mounting a counter-offensive, may work in the short-run. You may be able to end the conversation or diffuse the fight; however, there is usually damage to a relationship that may be difficult to repair. Couples who are unable to talk through concerns often grow apart and the distance can erode the loving feelings for each other.

Tips for Couples and Conflict
Here are some tips for you to keep your cool and listen to your partner as he or she talks about a problem or concern that they experience with you.
1. Keep in mind that the best way to have your opinion considered is to hear someone else talk about theirs. When someone feels heard and understood (not necessarily agreed with), then their mind is much more likely to hear your ideas.

2. When having that “defensive talk” inside your head, (statements like: “She is being unfair” or “How can he talk like that?”) take deep breaths and remind yourself that there will definitely be time for you to talk about your ideas.

3. Masters in couples and conflict keep in mind that the relationship is more important than “winning” an argument. This does not mean that you want to let your partner run all over you, you may have to clearly stand up for yourself, but the health of the relationship will be best if you can remain calm.

4. Remind yourself and your partner, out loud, that you love her/him and that you want to find a way to work through problems. Making simple repair attempts can really help to calm things down.

5. In the event that you find you are really flooded and having a tough time remaining calm, take a time out. Let yourself calm down and think clearly about what you heard, your partner’s thoughts and feelings and what you want to make sure you eventually get across.

Using these tips can help make you an expert on couples and conflict.

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