Written by Cloé Vaz-Wiggins
Image by @samarialeah
Have you ever thought about what your true intentions are going into certain arguments? Whether we’re conscious about it or not, our intentions set the tone for how the conversations will unfold. If we step into certain conservations – no matter how hard it is for us to admit – not interested in creating space, listening, keeping it cool and the most dangerous of all, only concerned with proving that we are right and someone else is wrong.
Safe to say, it’s likely that we’ll accomplish just that.
We’ll be impatient, quick to react and use every opportunity to flip the script and make sure the other person is to blame, cue a gaslighting festival at all costs. And even though this was our true intention (again whether we’re conscious about it or not) we never feel good about it, after the fact.
Even though we did it, we’re ‘right’, it doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel resolved, we definitely don’t feel good about ourselves or the other person and the damage that it causes to the relationship starts to unfold. For some, it unravels quickly and for some it takes some time, for all of us though, it chips away at the relationships and the ones involved no matter the tempo.
Yeah, you guessed it, that’s not the healthiest way to have productive conversations that benefit those you connect with and are in relationships with. But most of all that’s not how you’ll push those relationships forward, how you’ll grow and evolve with the ones around you, no matter the type of relationship.
Having said that, we all do this or we’ve all done this, and we shouldn’t blame ourselves and enter a guilt trip as that wouldn’t be very healthy either. Instead, we can choose something different and better. We can take accountability and take control over the things we choose moving forward. Shifting how you argue, discuss or have a conversation with someone is a learning process, a reconditioning path that requires above all that you take accountability for your contribution to that exchange. And I know, I repeated accountability like five times, but truly, owning your part is so incredibly important to a healthier, more vulnerable and authentic experience.
If you’re not aware of what you truly want to get out of it, how can you choose to take a deep breath? How can you choose to let something go because it’s not about being right? How can you listen and create space when your instinct is to interrupt and make your point? These take practice, so much practice, but the only way you’ll get to a point of actually doing them and keep doing them until you no longer have to think about it is to keep coming back to WHY are you practising it.
And our WHY’s might differ, but in the end, no matter the nuances, our why’s should be at the core the certainty that we deserve to be a part of healthy relationships, safe exchanges, and challenging conversations and arguments that instead of bringing us down or chip away at our spirit, push us forward, challenge us to grow and evolve.
A few practices that I’ve been trying that might serve you:
Be honest about your intention – before you start speaking, be clear on where you want the conversation to go, keep coming back to this whenever you lose track.
Before you speak, breathe – this one is the hardest for me, because honestly, I’m quick to respond, so yes, before we speak, deep breaths.
Forget about being right – at the end of the day it doesn’t matter, and what you actually want is to be heard so just let this right or wrong narrative go, as quickly as you can.
Lead by example – treat and speak to the other person in the same way you want to be treated and spoken to, you show the way, you be it, you be about it.
Say how you feel and be vulnerable – the thing with vulnerability is that it’s the thing we’re scared of the most, but it’s also the thing we look for in others the most. Ironic but deeply true, so if you have to go first, do it. Share how you feel and change the tone. That’s not weakness, that’s courage.
Set some boundaries – have some guidelines, for example, never speak to each other in a derogatory or humiliating way, the thing with opening those doors is that once they’re open, it’ll be so hard to close them. If you start calling each other names, you’ll start with stupid and in a week’s time you’re an idiot and it just keeps going. So, try not to open them and if they’re open already, figure out how you can close them and close them soon.
Above all, be respectful, kind and compassionate, remember this is someone you love, someone that is a part of your life, a part of your story and that means something. It’s worth the effort and the practice. Sprinkle love all over it, even when you’re arguing, especially when you’re arguing.