For parents and teens alike, family feuds are far less lighthearted than the once-popular game show. However, if both parties can agree to try to make disagreements functional rather than simply frustrating, they can actually draw the family closer together than they were before the conflict arose. Part of making an argument beneficial is to make sure not to do certain things. The list below is a sample of what not to do during your next family feud.
1. Don’t get others involved.
Comparisons to other instances, stereotypes, or individuals are out, as are referencing others’ opinions on the matter. This discussion is about the two (or three) of you communicating your own viewpoints regarding the issue at hand and arriving at a solution.
2. Don’t attempt manipulation.
Being honest and direct about your feelings, needs, and desires is essential. Playing the martyr, having a pity party, or using emotionally charged language (including tears or a raised voice) are all unfair.
3. Don’t use absolutes.
Words like “always” or “never” are usually inaccurate. These kinds of exaggerations will probably produce a tenable defense in addition to an understandably heightened frustration level.
4. Don’t interrupt the other person.
As long as the person isn’t losing control or otherwise fighting unfairly, hear them out. And do so politely. No eye-rolling, laughing, or yawning while the other person is talking! Give the person the kind of fair hearing you want for yourself.
5. Don’t use harsh language.
There’s really no place in an argument for sarcasm, obscenities, or insults. These extreme forms of communication do nothing but escalate the issue and lessen the chances of amicable resolution.
6. Don’t make threats.
While the outcome of the discussion may end up resulting in the need for action, don’t threaten divorce, abandonment, or punishments of any sort. The mention of such actions will undermine the aim of the discussion by reducing the incentive of a restored relationship.
7. Don’t obsess over details.
If the other person is upset about your failure to be on time for the third time this week, when you know it was really only the second, just let it slide. The issue is not in the minute details, and arguing about them will solve nothing.
Following these rules will help you avoid unnecessary damage to the relationship involved and help discourage angry, unproductive communication. In order to further reduce the chances of a blow up, why not make a game of it? To help lighten the mood, you may want to consider using some sort of bell or buzzer to indicate when a breach of these rules has been made. You might even want to up the ante and start with a 2 bowls of poker chips or treats. Each time someone breaks a rule, one of their chips is relocated to the other person’s bowl. Afterward, the goal is to be able to enjoy your winnings together—maybe even share.