1) Remember that you love this person! – Your mission in the argument is to express your point of view – not to hurt the other person’s feelings or attack them. Hurting someone’s feelings pretty much insures that they will not listen to what you have to say.
2) Use “I” statements. For example, “I feel _______ when you …” – “I” statements help keep you focused on what it is you are trying to say about how you feel. They also help you avoid attacking the other person and cue the other person in to what you are trying to communicate.
3) Watch your tone of voice – The louder you yell, the less the other person can hear you! If you notice your voice getting louder, STOP and take a deep breathe before going on in a lower tone.
4) If you can’t say something constructive, don’t say anything at all – It is better to walk away from an argument than to let it escalate when you feel you can’t control yourself. Give yourself and your partner room to breathe and cool off!
5) Before arguing about it, ask yourself “how important is this really?” – Rule of thumb: If you won’t care about it in 2 days it probably isn’t worth arguing about. Another rule of thumb: If in the middle of the argument you can’t remember what you are arguing about, it’s probably not worth arguing about.
6) Stick to the CURRENT point – If you must bring up a past argument or situation, specifically point out the connection between that event and the current argument. Warn your partner that you are bringing this up in context not content.
7) Own up to your part – Try to stop and think about what part you are playing in the conflict. What can you do to tone things down and move the communication from argument to conversation? For example, sometimes you need to admit that you are being irrational, sarcastic, or cranky.
8) Identify an acceptable outcome – In every interaction, there is an ideal outcome and an acceptable outcome. You may not get your ideal outcome (“I promise honey I will always clean up after myself “)…what would you be willing to accept (“I will go do the laundry right now.”)
9) Paraphrase to make sure you are hearing each other correctly – Repeat in your own words what you just heard your partner say. Make sure you are responding to what they are saying and not what you think you heard!
10) Peace offerings and Making up – Remember that the argument must end. When it is all over, remind your partner that you love them even when you argue.