No one enjoys fighting with spouses, significant others, friends, or family, but every close relationship has its ups and downs. Good conflict management is a recipe for keeping a relationship strong, and this includes knowing how to fight (and how not to fight). An argument between you and someone you love should be a chance to work through problems and come out on the other side stronger, not an opportunity to tear one another down. Even if you haven’t yet mastered the fine art of fighting fairly, you should aim to not cause lasting damage in the midst of your arguments. Here are the five things you should never say in the midst of an argument:
You Always Do That!
There’s hardly anything anywhere that anyone always does, so this statement is on its face misleading and dishonest. It’s particularly dangerous to use when you’re trying to explain a problem. The other person will of course immediately insist that they don’t in fact always do something and your legitimate complaint will be lost in the midst. Rather than overdramatizing the problem, make reasonable assessments and give reasonable examples.
I Don’t Care
People say they don’t care in different ways. Some may make proclamations that, “You’re impossible to please!” while others might simply stop talking or say directly they don’t care. Conveying that you don’t care conveys that the relationship doesn’t matter to you. And if you don’t care about the other person’s concerns, they have little incentive to care about yours. Don’t tear apart your relationship and the person you care about with this very destructive claim.
Everything You Say Is Wrong
Many people get so caught up in an argument that they miss the grand picture and focus on tiny details. If you argue and bicker with the other person about every small example, every feeling, and every statement they give, eventually you will tear them down so much that they won’t be able to continue to talk to you (and will likely become very angry to boot). Make sure to acknowledge feelings, and fight to gain better understanding, not to win or to belittle.
It’s All In Your Head
Saying something is all in someone else’s head is a different variety of the “I don’t care” argument. By insisting that nothing the other person is saying could possibly be true, you’re dismissing their feelings and, by extension, them. The truth is that if you’re fighting with someone else, you’re both at fault and both have valid complaints. Don’t insist on dismissing every concern the other person shares with you, or you may soon find the other person refusing to share anything with you.
I’m Not Sorry
Few people would be so bold as to actually say they’re not sorry, but we convey that we’re not sorry in many ways. These include apologizing but then continuing to argue with the other person about whether you did anything wrong; saying things like, “I’m sorry if you’re upset” (which means you’re really apologizing for the way the other person reacted!), etc. A legitimate, earnest apology is still one of the best problem-solving and conflict mitigating tools available to you. So make sure that when you apologize, it counts. A heartfelt apology can do a world of good, and it’s a bad idea for your apology to be hurtful or meaningless!
For more information on fighting fairly, check out this article, which provides a more in depth overview of how to resolve conflict fairly and in an emotionally healthy way.