How to Use Arguments to Improve Your Relationship

Part of the Relationships For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Every relationship has conflict — arguments and disagreements go hand-in-hand with love and affection. But with Dr. Kate's Make-A-Deal technique, you can settle disagreements and grow closer in the process. Just follow these steps:

  1. Make a date to talk about the problem, choosing optimal time and place.

  2. Ask questions about your mate's thoughts and feelings first and throughout discussion: "How do you feel about . . . ?" "Are you saying that . . . ?"

  3. Keep reflecting back as long as your partner shares new info: "It sounds like . . ."

  4. Express empathy and support: "I'm so _____ (happy or sorry) for you." "I hope that everything goes better tomorrow."

  5. Agree with whatever you can agree with: ("I agree that . . ." "I can see that . . .")

    Alternate/take turns doing steps 2–5: reflective listening, asking questions, facilitative agreement, supportive statements, and positive reinforcement.

  6. Deal time! Brainstorm and pick a compromise: "Okay, so it sounds like we've ruled out ______ and ______, and we both seem to like ______ better. Why don't we try that this week, and get back together next week — same time, same place — to see if we're both happy with it?"

  7. Evaluate compromise at a later date and compromise again if necessary.

  8. Agree to disagree or rediscuss if you can't find a suitable compromise: "It seems like we both have strong feelings on this topic, and we're not going to reach any agreement tonight. So why don't we just agree to disagree for now, and get together next week — same time, same place — to talk about it again?"

  9. List agreements and leave on an upbeat, friendly note: "Okay, so we've decided that we're going to ______. Thank you for making time to talk about this and for meeting me halfway. I really appreciate your time and effort tonight. I think we did great!"

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