By Amatullah Aminah
Arguments happen! Sometimes we even believe that arguments are imperative for a healthy relationship. We vent out, argue and shout our hearts out, but most of the time we feel that the back and forth throwing of words did not win us a solution; nothing changes and we may feel the need for another word war. Most of the times arguments aggravate the issue and we are left with additional issues to take care of.
Allow me to introduce another term here - Discussions (with which, all of us are familiar). We have trained ourselves to believe that we ‘discuss’ issues but, in reality we end up ‘arguing’. Is it because we do not understand the difference between the two terms or we tend to transgress and overlap them, during the course of a conversation? I will briefly point out the difference between the two terms.
a) The object of an argument is to win; the object of a discussion is to gather information objectively.
b) The arguer tries to convince; the dialoguer tries to discover.
c) During an argument you may see two views, and consider yours to be the valid and best solution. In a discussion you are willing to understand multiple-view points.
Given below are five steps which can give us a better chance to communicate effectively and resolve issues and differences without getting bitter feelings, inshaAllah.
It is a holistic approach for effective communication and the five elements can occur in any order or even simultaneously.
Reflect: This is the action of acknowledging what you perceive the other person is thinking or feeling. If you know where the person is coming from then say, “I think you are looking at it this way…” or if you perceive an emotion, acknowledge it. These two opening statements are an invitation for the person to talk some more. People who know that their feelings and emotions are accepted and acknowledged are likely to be more open to listening- if not right away, eventually. This step also includes self-reflection. If you can get in touch with your own feelings you may gain insight about why you have a particular perspective.
Explain: Remember we have two ears and only one mouth, which is a reminder that we should listen twice as much we talk. Only after you have listened, listened and listened again, it is time to explain your point of view, in a civil, courteous and inoffensive manner.
Reason: If you are entirely honest with yourself, the reason you are standing in a conflict may not be entirely rational but could be emotional. That is perfectly fine, but recognizing that you have hot buttons that put you in conflicts is the first step in doing something about them.
Understand: This could be the hardest part! It may require patience, practice and a belief in “Speak the truth even if it is against you”. Try to understand the situation from both view points, while adopting an objective approach. You may talk to yourself, repeatedly, to get it. When you think you understand, you are ready for the next step.
Negotiate: Try brainstorming together until you can find a mutually satisfying solution. Remember you are not in a power game, there doesn't have to be a winner and a loser, remind yourself and the other person that there could be a winner and a winner. Refuse to take an either-or attitude (it is either my way or yours). If you are not stuck in a dualistic frame of mind, you can actually find a third or fourth solution or could be a combination of both the stances, and may be satisfactory to both of you.
The finale is seldom final. In only the simplest situations you do negotiate an agreement without communication breaking down! When feelings start clouding objectivity, return to the beginning. Go back and state the process again, you may have to R-E-R-U-N many times before you solve a situation (That is why it is called RERUN!). Stay Patient!
References: Child, Family and Community by Janet Gonzalez-Mena
I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below :)