• Quote of the Day
    "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
    Nelson Mandela, posted by Daniel

David Baxter

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Fair Fighting
Judith Sherven and James Sniechowski, The New Intimacy: Discovering the Magic at the Heart of Your Differences (Renaissance/St. Martin's Press, 2001).

Fair fighting is lovework—a fierce expression of love for yourself and your partner. Given that, there are very specific commitments you and your partner can make, before and during a fight, that will assure that you are doing lovework instead of doing damage. Remember, every fight is like a flare, an S.O.S. drawing your attention to what needs healing.

1. Your purpose is to find a mutually respectful resolution
During a fight, frustrations are high. Voices are loud. Vision is clouded, even distorted. Both of you can feel unseen, unheard, and unappreciated. That's the time to remember you do love one another, that the point of the conflict is to make sure neither of you sabotages your love by putting up with less than your love deserves. The purpose of a fight is to reconcile your differences and dissolve the distance between you.

2. Remember, you're only human
You're both feeling vulnerable. And, no matter how things appear, you both feel threatened, otherwise there would not be a fight. Since you both are feeling very fragile, it is essential that, even when your hot buttons are pushed, you can count on the fact that you both truly care for each other and that your connection is still there.

3. Sometimes a fight is necessary
Fair fighting is always about getting your grievances out in the open. It's a way of saying, "I'm completely committed to our relationship and I won't let this particular problem continue." You're fighting to stay fully alive, to continue to grow and develop with one another. When you both know this, you will know that a fair fight is a godsend -- an alarm calling you to put out the fire.

4. Both of you are being powerful
In a fair fight, no one is victimized. Whether you're yelling or silent, weeping or walking around the room, insistent or seeking—you are exerting a powerful effect on your partner. The fact that the fight continues is proof of your influence. Even though you may not feel like it, you are having an impact. You have to stay conscious of that.

5. Every fight is CO-created
In a fair fight, you both have to take responsibility for your participation in what created the conflict and what you are doing to resolve it. Whether you raised the complaint, or you are feeling defensive, criticized, whatever, it takes both of you to make a fight. Even when you're angry, threatened, shut down, you still make choices. You are always part of the process.

6. Don't harbor discontent
Commit to speaking your desire and need, dissatisfaction and hurt, as soon as you possibly can. What you keep secret acts like rust and fungus, coat hangers and the stuff in your garage. It keeps growing in the dark. It extends its contagion into more and more areas of your relationship until there is no more room for love.

7. Stay on point
Hash out only one thing at a time. Nothing is more maddening, confusing and ultimately enraging than jumping from point to point, obscuring the problem, making it very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve any kind of resolution. Fighting is serious business. It strengthens and deepens your connection. Give it your best effort. It's lovework.

8. Don't drag up past complaints
Since we all have some trouble keeping the emotional slate clean, it's very easy for the small stuff, and even the big stuff, that gets ignored to fester into buried land mines. And then, in the middle of a conflict, you feel desperate and all that old resentment comes flying out with something like, "Well, do you remember when you...?" Unless your spouse is strong enough to remind you that dragging up the past is out of line, suddenly the fight veers out of control and becomes lethal. After a few more do-you-remember-whens, neither of you even knows what you're fighting about. Then you're liable to throw anything into the mess.

9. Stay out of your individual history
As a basic rule of thumb, you can assume that anger has to do with what's happening in current time. In contrast, rage is like old, dammed-up water. When it's triggered by something, when your buttons are pushed, the dam bursts and rage rushes forth seeking revenge.

These are not principles that you drag out in the middle of a conflict. They are to be discussed and committed to beforehand.

© Copyright, June 7, 2002 The New Intimacy Newsletter
 

Cybil2U

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This is absolutely the best information I have read regarding couples fighting. It has given me a brand new way to see and understand why we fight or quarrel. Is it the basis for people fighting, i.e., heated discussion with a boss or co-worker or friend?
 

David Baxter

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It's primarily aimed at conflicts in close relationships (couples, family members, parent-child, close friends), where there is more equality and communication.

I do think the general principles could and should apply to work situations but there is an additional complication there, i.e., the willingness of the other person to "play by the rules" and the power imbalance. Of course, you can apply these principles in any situation and maybe by doing so you can set a model for how to settle differences and at the very least you may be able to limit the escalation of a conflict.
 

Cybil2U

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Fighting Fair

David Baxter said:
It's primarily aimed at conflicts in close relationships (couples, family members, parent-child, close friends), where there is more equality and communication.

I do think the general principles could and should apply to work situations but there is an additional complication there, i.e., the willingness of the other person to "play by the rules" and the power imbalance. Of course, you can apply these principles in any situation and maybe by doing so you can set a model for how to settle differences and at the very least you may be able to limit the escalation of a conflict.

Evening Dr. Baxter <and everyone else>

I guess that is one of the major problems......I play fair......
Maybe you can explain something for me please.........and this goes for city, county, state, federal, and private industry.........why is it when management errs.......they stick up for,.... say a supervisor, and will put it off on an employee or anything or anyone else - rather than admit to it and go on. The problem is still there, i.e., the supervisor, so it's detrimental to themselves, its not time or cost effective as they will have to hire and train another employee and the problem/issue/circumstances will more than likely occur again.

Other than _____ doesnt roll uphill - I sure dont understand it - it makes no sense and creates a situation where there didnt need to be - regardless of whether its an employee- co-worker, manager, when you make a mistake - and you become aware of it, you take responsibility for it, learn from it, and move on. I've worked for the county, state and private industry and I've seen it happen time and time again. I've only had one division chief who instructed his staff to take responsibility for errors because a) it's the right thing to do and b) by not doing so - an issue or situation is created and someone will get hurt by it.

The only answer I ever get when I ask why this happens, is, "well, that's just the way it is"......and my question is still, why?
 

David Baxter

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Good question. Years ago, I had occasion to complain about an abusive supervisor who was using his position to bully, harass, and punish people. The complaint was made to his supervisior, who told me, in essence, "I agree with you that this is going on and I agree that it is unfair and an abuse of power. However, I must support my managers and I am not going to take any action against him."

I started looking for another job that day. Six months later, now working in another town, I learned that my supervisior, the manager I had complained to, and several of their cronies had all been fired. That was some vindication, I suppose, but it didn't alter the fact that I had by then uprooted my family and moved them 150 miles or so away...

So why do those in authority abuse that authority, bully their staff, take credit for achievements of the people they supervise, and scapegoat them when things go wrong? I guess it's because, being in power, they can and there is in many cases no one who is going to stop them...

On the other hand, not ALL people in positions of authority behave that way, of course. As with politicians, there a few good ones, though it can be difficult to spot them in the throng of bad ones.
 

Cybil2U

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On the other hand, not ALL people in positions of authority behave that way, of course. As with politicians, there a few good ones, though it can be difficult to spot them in the throng of bad ones.
_________________

I think that there are people that get into politics and truly hope to make a difference and set out to make a positive impact and help people. However, I dont see how they can remain "honest". I would think it almost impossible - especially when it comes to getting certain bills passed. Then I think it turns into a "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours".

That's just my opinion and hey, I've been wrong once or twice before .....<smile>

Nite all !
 

Retired

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What about a situation involving a recent moved in neighbor who comes into a community where people are congenial and accommodating. However the new neighbor seems not interested in integrating, which is

OK, but exhibits inconsiderate behavior like playing loud disruptive music at inappropriate times, letting the dog run lose among other things.

Polite attempts to let the person know this behavior is contrary to the norms of the community and their cooperation would be appreciated fell on deaf ears and the new neighbors no longer make eye contact nor respond to greetings of "good day"

What might be some approaches to extend an olive branch to such people in order to assist them to become part of a community which is generally very friendly and accommodating.

The purpose of trying to solve these anti social behavioral problems is to maintain a congenial atmosphere in the community and to preclude having to take legal action.

Is this type of reaction on their part what is referred to as passive aggressive?

How does one deal with people who behave this way?

BTW we're not talking about kids, here..but retired fogeys like myself {BBG}

Thanks for any insights.

Steve
 

ThatLady

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If polite efforts have failed (and it sounds like they have), there may be no choice but to escalate to confrontation. Either keep the music volume at reasonable levels and curtail the activities of your wandering canines, or the police will have to become involved. Once confronted, people like this usually fall into step or move away. Either way, the community wins.
 

Retired

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{{recommends repeated stabbings, which should continue until morale and discipline are noticeably improved}}

ROTFL!!!

Believe me I've come pretty darned close, especially with that gator bait yapping mutt!!

Now I'll never get to sleep as I laugh my head off, thinking about that great advice, David
 

stargazer

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This is a great theme. I'm glad I read all this before going to have a planned confrontation with an ex-client and quasi-friend. I'd sent her an e-mail about some stuff, and she wanted to talk in person after church. The last time this happened it got really heated. We were at a Starbucks in a Barnes and Noble, and everyone around us was tuned into our conversation. It was embarrassing.

But I have a good feeling about this one. We'll see....
 

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