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Nine Rules for Fair Battles:

Strengthening Relationships Through Effective Communication

Everyone has disagreements with their partners; it's a natural part of life. Have you ever had something said to you, and in the heat of the moment, you became defensive? It happens to all of us. Maybe it’s a trigger that raises feelings of past criticism or moments you wish not to remember, causing you to react in the moment, which isn’t always a great idea.

Perhaps you started with a small disagreement, and it escalated quickly. Have you ever been upset about someone drinking all the milk and then flown off the handle, leaving the other person confused about why this upset you so much? They are unable to read your mind and didn’t see the buildup coming. Sometimes you may not even remember what the argument was about, although it left you feeling sad, hurt, and upset.

I wanted to share with you nine rules for having a fair battle with those you care about when disagreements arise. These ensure there is an outcome and can help make your relationship stronger, more connected, and outcome-driven.

1. Understand Your Feelings Before Bringing Up the Problem 

Before you address an issue, ask yourself why you feel upset. Are you being true to the real problem? Understanding your emotions can help you communicate more effectively.

2. Focus on One Issue at a Time 

Don’t unpack historical events during a disagreement. Tackling one issue at a time prevents overwhelm and confusion, making it easier to find a resolution.

3. Avoid Degrading Language 

It’s never okay to put each other down. Using respectful language helps maintain mutual respect and keeps the conversation productive.

4. Express and Own Your Feelings 

Use "I" statements to express how you feel, such as “I feel hurt when you ignore my messages.” This approach helps the other person understand your perspective without feeling blamed.

5. Speak Equally 

Allow each other to share views without one person dominating the conversation. Take turns to be heard, ensuring both parties feel valued.

"Good Communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity" - Peter Drucker.

6. Resist Avoidance or Refusal to Communicate 

Deciding not to talk about the issue leaves the problem unresolved. Open communication is key to finding solutions.

7. Don’t Raise Your Voice 

When emotions run high, catching yourself before your voice rises can prevent the situation from escalating. Calm tones lead to calmer discussions.

8. Take Time to Collect Your Thoughts 

If emotions are too intense, take a timeout before you say something you may regret. Spend 15 minutes to cool off and gather your thoughts before continuing the conversation.

9. Aim for Compromise 

Be willing to try and find a middle ground. Life isn’t always perfect, and without compromise, problems often remain unresolved.

These nine rules offer hope that we can communicate effectively, bring solutions to our problems, and manage disagreements more constructively. Remember, the goal is to strengthen your relationship, foster connection, and achieve positive outcomes together by openly communicating and allowing each other to feel heard.

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