About RTÉ Television
The Afternoon Show
The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Laws of Attraction

Friday, 5 February 2010

David Kavanagh- Relationship Consultant

How to have a good row - Generally Speaking!

. Start softly-not harshly
. Make repair attempts and recognise and accept them from your partner
. Soothe yourself and each other
. Compromise in the row
. Choose your place and time carefully
. Press the pause button if you are flooded
. Recognise you each have different fight styles
. Remove the tone of blame from your comments
. Say how you feel
. Don't criticise their personality
. Don't insult, mock or use sarcasm
. Be direct
. Stick with one situation
. Don't analyse
. Don't mind-read and make assumptions

How to have a constructive argument with a colleague or friend.

Context - where is it happening? public or private place - will you be disturbed by a phone or someone walking in. how is that other person? Stressed? Enough time for a conflict?

Think of the environment. Should be sitting down, a table can be a useful prop to lean on. Not a barrier but a psychological defence. Phones should be turned off. The focus should be on in finding clarity and solutions.

Not a good thing to catch someone off guard, they will not be focused on the debate so they won't have had a chance to think. So schedule time to have a proper conversation where both parties are prepared. Don't start the conversation if you intend to provoke, diminish, humiliate, embarrass, shame or annoy, frustrate the other person, then the result will be that. And that is not constructive. This will never win friends or influence people. It may win the argument but you lose the relationship, the person's trust / respect.

Use assertiveness again. You are there to listen to the other person's point of view as well as expressing yours. If someone is refusing to listen to you, say it to them, I don't think you're listening to me, give info back to the person. Give them back the power, so they feel things are equal. This soothes people.

Accentuate the positive, ignore the negative. Look back at the times or circumstances where things were able to be resolved in the past. Refer back to positive interchanges, where things were worked out before. You're showing them a template for successful resolution. Conciliation is very important. Meet people halfway as much as possible. You are trying to find a win-win situation.

If you are met with anger or tension, you have to listen to their point of view. We usually feel we have more righteousness, but we can't change another human being. We can only change our responses to their behaviour. These are only guidelines, you may need a facilitator. But if you apply these steps you will have more chance of resolving things.

There has to be 50-50 give and take. As we're human and fallible, we think we are right most of the time, that's not a fact! Try see the person from the other person's perspective, walk in their shoes for a week. Take an observer's perspective on yourself. If they don't do the same they're stuck. There has to be a willingness on both sides to work out the problem.

Romances/relationships are more intense, as there is more at risk in this kind of relationship.

The sexual dynamic, there's an emotional connection. It's very difficult to separate out your inner vulnerability from the argument. You can leave your friend / colleague but you can't forget your partner/husband/wife. Have to work harder at working out the conflict.

Don't bring up the past into the present. Does it motivate me more or less to change?

Globalizing - never and always - a NO NO! You never listen to me! You never remember to bring out the bins! "The fact that you didn't bring out the bins today makes me feel you don't care about our home!"

If people say vicious things to each other, you can't ignore this so take a time out. 20 mins. Not count to ten. Takes longer than that. Need to learn to soothe each other. Use physical touch carefully. If she's angry the guy should not hug her. Leave her alone, let her calm down, giving space 20mins. If crying hug her.

Do sleep on an argument! Absolutely a good idea. It's an old wives' tale to not sleep on it. If you're tired and stressed and someone wants to resolve stuff then you won't feel better go to bed, sleep well, and then talk. Rows usually don't seem to be as upsetting in the morning, after breakfast. Relax. All about time and place. Don't be doing other stuff, washing toilets etc! If don't; give the conversation the attention it deserves.