Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Things to Say and Not Say During a Fight, Part 3

Avoid sarcasm. It’s demeaning. Also avoid the martyr’s version of sarcasm: “Fine, fine, I’ll just shut up and never say another word since I clearly can’t get anything right. No, no, I’m saying you’re absolutely right. I’m a terrible person.”

Don’t tell her she shouldn’t be angry or hurt because you weren’t trying to piss her off or hurt her. You did piss her off and you did hurt her. It might not be your fault that she misunderstood you, but she has a right to her feelings.

It’s also a good idea to inoculate before expressing your concern/complaint. This is a technique used by therapists. Sometimes you have to say things that you know could be hurtful or could be taken the wrong way. Instead of blurting them out, prepare the person. Preface your comment with “I need to say this even though I’m concerned about saying it because I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but…” And don’t wait to say it. Say it right then. Dragging it out is cruel and painful for the person who knows she is about to hear something she may not want to hear but knows she has to.

If you are the one who’s angry, you’re more likely to be heard if you *say* you’re angry rather than *express* your anger by yelling, breaking things, etc. And you’re even more likely to be heard if you express the hurt or disappointment behind the anger.

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