Christmas can be a time of joy and celebration, yet at the same time it can be a time of stress and tension. Don,t let that cross word escalate into a huge argument that spoils this season of goodwill.
Here are a few tips to help you smooth out any ruffled feathers:
1. Get it out into the open – Rather than avoid conflict altogether make time to sit down calmly or go for a walk to discuss any frustrations that may be building. Do so in a calm, respectful way rather than let the tension build up and blurt it out in an angry, hurtful way.
2. Stop being defensive – rather than denying how you feel and avoiding the reality that your silence is creating a bad atmosphere. Make time to talk. Silent defensiveness only contributes to the problem. You may think it better to say nothing as a way of alleviating stress in the here and now, but silence is a very passive aggressive gesture and will only alienate your partner when they don’t feel listened to.
3. Avoid overgeneralising – When you have it out with the other person avoid making sweeping generalisations. Don’t start sentences with “You always,” or “You never,” as in “You always leave everything to me!” or, “You never help me!” Can you really say, with your hand on your heart that this is the case on every occasion? Also, however tempting it may be, avoid bringing up past conflicts as this will just add fuel to the fire and stir up mor negativity.
4. There is not always a “right” or a “wrong” – it’s not helpful to always assume that there is a right and a wrong way to look at things, and that your way is the right way. Don’t demand that the other person sees it your way or that just because they have a different opinion that they are wrong. Try to find a compromise if you can, or agree to disagree. After all, both points of view could be valid.
5. Stop mind-reading – in the CBT world we talk about “unhelpful thinking.” Instead of asking how the other person is thinking of feeling, people sometimes assume that they know what their partner is thinking and feeling based upon inaccurate interpretations of their actions. For example, just because somebody is late home, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care enough to be on time. Remember, we all come from a unique perspective, so stop assuming and take time to ask, check out and really listen to the other person.
6. Don’t forget to listen – instead of taking time to attempt to understand your partner, stop interrupting, rolling your eyes and rehearsing what you are going to say next. Take time to stop and truly listen to their point of view. There will be plenty of time for you to talk. Do not underestimate the power of really listening and really trying to empathise. Such listening skills are really all about respecting the other person.
7. Stop playing the blame game – instead of simply criticising and blaming the other person for the situation. Be prepared to back down, say sorry and acknowledge that you might not be right. You may think that this weakens your credibility and prefer to “shame” them into accepting it is their “fault.” His does not help create a harmonious solution where both parties can make up. Instead, try to come up with a solution that helps you both.
8. Stop trying to “Win” at all costs – there is a saying that goes along the lines of: “If people are focused on winning the argument, the relationship loses.” The point of a relationship discussion is to reach a mutual understanding and come to an agreement or resolution that respects everyone’s needs.
9. Avoid character attacks – finally, just because your partner leaves his or her clothes lying around the bedroom does not mean that he or she is “inconsiderate” or “lazy.” Just because the other person wants to do something different to you it doesn’t mean they are being “awkward .” What ever you make think, take time to step back and give the other person some respect, after all it is their behaviour you have difficulty with.
Remember, good communication can really improve relationships, increasing intimacy, trust and support. This Christmas come together and make time for each other, even if things become a little fraught at times. Make friends, say sorry and celebrate openness and honesty.
Have a good Christmas,
Until next time, Steve.
You may wish to know that Steve is now offering therapy sessions via Skype Please contact us through our website @ www.stevecliffordcbt.com
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Steve Clifford Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist. Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.
Reference: “Conflict Resolution Mistakes to Avoid,” by Elizabeth Scott, 28/10/11
Image: Source/Wikimedia Commons – File: Argue.png (Clipart).