An Example Of An Effective Argument Between Adults
Husband: "Boy it's getting late, I'd sure hate to be late for the family reunion."
Wife: "Sounds like you're feeling anxious. As usual I've received two phone calls just when I'm getting ready to go; and then Chrissy couldn't find her left shoe. Maybe you could go help Jeffy get his things together to help save time."
Husband: "That's a good idea. It sounds like you've had a pretty hectic day. I'd hate to be late to the opening ceremonies because my cousin is giving a speech. I'd feel disrespectful if I missed it."
Wife: "I know this is important to you. It is to me too. I had unexpected visitors from the ladies relief committee today and I was embarrassed to ask them to leave early, but I knew I had to get ready to go. I do enjoy them coming though. It is nice to talk to adults once in a while."
Husband: "It's important to you to have adult companionship and someone to talk to. (Pause) It's important to me that we get going. Perhaps tonight when we get back home we can arrange to go for a walk and spend some time together."
Wife: "That sounds great. Here let me help you get jeffy's things together. I'm ready to go already."
This example demonstrates how two people with different agendas and intense feelings about their own situations can come together, express their feelings and needs to one another without escalating into an argument. Each was able to express their feelings, listen to the feelings of the other, reflect what they understood the other to mean and propose a solution to the immediate problem. Neither attacked or blamed the other. Instead they expressed an understanding of their deeper need to be together and share quality time away from the hectic happenings of their day.
The difference between healthy and unhealthy argument is in how we listen to each other. Many people have a tendency to prepare and interject their counter arguments rather than to listen fully to the other. When we listen reflectively, without judging, we avoid argument, confrontation and defensiveness.
If you find that you have become too emotional during a confrontation, remove yourself from the situation and take a time out. During the time out get out your list of steps towards effective arguing and go through each step in your mind as you regroup and ready yourself to go back and finish the conversation.
"I am convinced that a person changes his/her life pattern only when s/he himself is truly ready for such a change. And, that until s/he is ready, no pressure, reason, or persuasion on earth can influence him/her. I am also convinced, that reform is a matter of transcending old desires and habits, not the suppression of them. (Starr Daily, Love Can Open Prison Doors, London: Arthur James Limited, 1947, p. 29.) Parents need to teach by example so that our children will have the desire to change, to grow and to follow the example we have set for them. Controlling, coercing and ordering make a child less ready to change. The parent needs to be more mature than the child and therefore willing to change him/herself first.