(from Laurie Puhn, J.D., author of “Fight Less, Love More”)
Whatever the problem, these strategies melt away conflict.
- Eliminate Dumb Factual Arguments: “You’re wrong. You don’t know what you’re talking about. The bailout was first signed under Obama,” argues your mate. /// Smart Tactic: When tempers flare ask yourself, “Are we arguing about a fact or an opinion?” If you conclude it’s a fact, immediately raise the white flag and say, “This is silly. We’re arguing about a fact. Let’s stop right now to fact-check on the internet.”
- Avoid Post-Argument Arguments: After a heated verbal exchange, you finally hear the priceless word “okay” which offers you a mutually acceptable agreement on an issue. /// Smart Tactic: Lock your lips. Quit while you’re ahead. Recognize that you have found common ground and won the argument even if you haven’t gotten all that you want. Never make the provokingly dumb statement “I have just one more thing to say…” or you will re-start the argument.
- Reject the “Whatever” Word: If someone asks you what you think about a hot-topic political, economic or social issue or even where you want to go for dinner, you might want to take the passive route by responding with the “W” word. /// Smart Tactic: Whatever you do, don’t say whatever. It blows people off and incites retaliation. Instead, think and give a specific answer. Watch this short entertaining video for a play-by-play enactment of the ‘whatever’ argument.
- Engage, Don’t Enrage: Your annoying motor mouth mate, colleague, or friend desperately wants to persuade you that he/she is right about an issue. He/she won’t stop talking until you cave. /// Smart Tactic: Change your game plan. Don’t fight to be right. Instead, view the situation as a time to listen. Short-circuit the conflict by repeating neutral comments like, “that’s interesting,” and “that’s one way to see it.” This will tire your opponent. Then say, “I value your perspective, now I’ll share mine. I agree that we don’t agree. Will you?”
- Orchestrate a Perfect Apology: You made an insensitive verbal gaffe and you want to apologize. /// Smart Tactic: Don’t say “I’m sorry.” It is a bad apology. Take full responsibility and use this 3-step apology to win the mercy you want: Step 1) Embellish the wrong as in “I made a big mistake when I criticized you in public” Step 2) Add the “because” clause, as in, “I’m sorry because…. I embarrassed you.” Step 3) Offer a plan of prevention, as in, “In the future, I will……. keep my mouth shut unless you say I can tell people about your job loss.”