Twitter Facebook Myspace

Fighting Fair

Ty Supancic, Esq.

Everyone disagrees sometimes. In fact, a relationship that avoids conflict may be unhealthy. Healthy relationships do not avoid conflict, but use it to clear the air productively, without hurt feelings. Here are fourteen rules for fighting fair:

1. Take Responsibility. It may take two to argue, but it only takes one to end a conflict. Make a commitment to never intentionally harm your partner’s feelings.

2. Don’t escalate. The most important commitment you will make to fair fighting is to overcome any desire to speak or act hurtfully.

3. Use “I” speech. When we use “you” speech, it is often perceived as accusatory. Instead, talk about your own feelings: “I feel hurt when I hear ______.” This may prevent defensiveness, as it’s hard to argue with a self-report.

4. Learn to use “time outs”. Agree that if hurtful speech or actions continue, either party may call a time out. The three elements to a successful time out are: 1.) Use “I” speech to take responsibility, such as, “I don’t want to get angry.” 2.) Say what you need: “I need to take a walk to clear my head.” 3.) Set a time limit: “I’ll be back in 15 minutes to finish our talk.” These steps will keep either of you from feeling abandoned.

5. Avoid and defend against hurtful speech. This includes name-calling, swearing, sarcasm, shouting, or any verbal hostility or intimidation. Agree to a key phrase that indicates hurt feelings, such as “That’s below the belt.”

6. Stay calm. Don’t overreact. Behave with calm respect and your partner will be more likely to consider your viewpoint.

7. Use words, not actions. When feelings run high, even innocent actions like hitting a tabletop may be misinterpreted. Use “I” speech to explain your feelings instead.

8. Be specific. Use concrete examples (who, what, when, where) for your objections.

9. Discuss only one issue at a time. If you find yourself saying, “And another thing….,” stop.

10. Avoid generalizations like “never” or “always”. Use specific examples.

11. Don’t exaggerate. Exaggerating only prevents discussions about the real issue. Stick with facts and honest feelings.

12. Don’t wait. Try to deal with problems as they arise — before hurt feelings have a chance to grow.

13. Don’t clam up. When one person becomes silent and stops responding, anger may build. Positive results are attained with two-way communication.

14. Agree to these ground rules.

Remember, when you both agree to common rules, resolving conflict is more likely. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to fight fair, we simply can’t resolve a conflict. When this happens, talks with a trained professional may help. We are always available to assist you when you are unable to reach a resolution you can both live with.

The family law lawyers at The Law Collaborative, Los Angeles, are dedicated to providing useful tools like these to assist couples in managing conflict, resolving issues, and preserving families. Remember: We host a FREE family law workshop on the second Saturday of every month. The next workshop is this Saturday, Sept. 9 from 10AM to 12PM. Call (818) 348-6700 to RSVP.

Best wishes,

Ty Supancic, Esq.

The Law Collaborative, APC

 

Disengage from Conflict

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama was asked what human trait he found to be most baffling.  He replied that he was mystified that Man, “sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
~ Dalai Lama XIV

 
That is an accurate description of Man as Machine. Humankind, as programmed by media, by upbringing, by circumstance, to strive rather than to abide. This is the way that most of us live. It’s what war is all about, and progress too. What a conundrum. Where does consciousness fit in to our lives, so that we may make peace instead of war, and make progress as well?
Let’s start with the psychological term, ‘projection.’ A wise man explained to me that projection is when we see our own mostly negative qualities, problematic issues, or challenges in another person. It’s called Projection, “because it’s like having a light on your forehead that shines” our own injurious, unmindful material, onto that other person. Then we feel angry or hurt, and blame that person for causing our pain. Our projection does not come from anything that person may have done – it comes from us, from our own unconscious. When we are in the grip of projection, we refuse to take responsibility for our own ‘stuff.’

Projection is, unfortunately, alive and well before, during and after divorce. Projection can even cause divorce. How is this possible? Projection interferes with relationships because, when it occurs, it is impossible for the person in it’s thrall to take responsibility for owning the negative material. We cannot claim to be conscious, and ‘adult,’ while refusing to take responsibility for Projection.

This month, l am going to try an experiment. On a daily basis, when a conflict arises, I am going to attempt to keep my projections at bay, to disengage them from play. If I find myself judging, suspecting or accusing another person, instead of voicing that negative and giving it life, I am going to ask myself how that negative might apply directly to me – what does such a thought have to say about my own motives? If I am judging another as greedy, am I myself actually feeling avaricious, or miserly, grudging or impoverished or jealous? Will I then take responsibility for that feeling and own my responses to it? That is probably the most important and challenging part of the experiment. Admitting fault, even to ourselves, makes us feel vulnerable and unmoored, but more importantly, it exposes the conflict for what it is and enables resolution.

If you decide to join my experiment, please let me know.

 

Fable of the Porcupine

It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals were dying because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing their situation, decided to group together to keep warm. This way they covered and protected themselves. But the quills of each one wounded their closest companions. After awhile, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen. So they had to make a choice: Either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from Earth. Wisely, they decided to join together again. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationships with their companions, in order to receive the warmth that came with them. This way they were able to survive.

The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but the one where each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others while admiring the other person’s good qualities.