HEIDI F. YODER, mfc 47168
Psychotherapy & Life Skills
5655 College Ave.
Oakland, CA 94618
1.Speak from an “I position.” (“I think,” “I feel,” “I believe,” “I
wish,” “I fear.”)
A true “I position” conveys your own experience and reactions without criticizing or blaming the other. Watch out for “pseudo-I positions” or “disguised you positions.” (“I feel you need to control everything.”)
2.Sort out who owns the problem.
Get clear on the boundaries of individual responsibility. Let other people own their own problems and take responsibility for their own
3.Avoid below-the-belt tactics (e.g., blaming, interpreting, diagnosing, labeling, analyzing, preaching, moralizing, ordering, warning, interrogating, ridiculing, lecturing, distracting, withdrawing, probing).
Don’t put the other person down.
4.Confine yourself to one issue at a time.
Always stay in the here-and-now. Bringing up the past is a diversionary tactic. There may be a time to discuss past grievances, but not during
5.Talk in specifics.
Avoid generalities and vague complaints. If the other person is vague (“You’re insensitive,” “You don’t give enough,” “You’re difficult to work with”) request clarification, including specific examples.
Never assume you or someone else know, or should know what has not been explicitly stated in words.
7.A cold withdrawal is dirty fighting; taking time out to get clear and centered is reasonable and fair.
8.Listen carefully to others and be receptive to feedback.
If you begin to get defensive, go into “active listening.”
9.Learn to apologize quickly when an apology is due, before things escalate.
Learn also to say, “I don’t know,” “I’m not sure,” “I’m not clear,” and “I need more time to sort out where I stand on that.”
10. Never tell another person what she/he thinks or feels, or “should” think or feel.
If another attacks your thoughts and feelings, you do not need to provide logical arguments to back them. Better to calmly say, “Well, it may seem crazy or irrational to you, but this is the way I feel.”
11. Learn to appreciate that there are multiple realities.
If you are fighting about who has “The Truth,” you may be missing the point. Differing views of reality and conflicting wishes and
preferences don?t mean one person is “wrong.” Your legitimate anger does not mean the other person is to blame.
12. Remember! The only person you can change is yourself!
Don’t try to change or control another person. It
1. DON’T use physical violence or threats. It’s impossible to be honest and clear when you’re not feeling safe.
2. DON’T mind-read or psycho-analyze. Your partner, not you, should be the one to say what he or she is thinking and feeling.
3. DON’T throw in the kitchen sink. Resentments about unfinished fights from the past will cloud the issue and escalate anger. Solve one problem at a time.
4. DON’T use shouting, name-calling, sarcasm, insults, or accusations. In addition to hurting your partner’s feelings, these behaviors insure that you WON’T be heard or taken seriously.
5. DO identify the problem. Ask yourself exactly what’s upsetting you. Is it really that small, annoying thing that just happened? Is it really about your partner at all? Think before you talk.
6. DO choose a quiet, relaxed time and place to have your discussion, if you can. When you’re upset, most problems seem
more urgent than they really are.
7. DO tell your partner what you would like to happen, and be specific. Describe the behavior you would like your partner to do. “You never help around the house,” will be far less effective than, “I’d like it if you’d wash the dishes at least 2 nights a week.”
8. DO use “I” statements. Starting a sentence with the word “you” can put anyone on the defensive, especially someone who’s already mad at you. The word “I” signals that you’re simply going to say your own point of view.
9. DO use feeling statements. “I think” and “I want” are okay, too, but they express opinions and invite disagreement. You are the absolute authority on your own emotions, so no one can argue with “I feel.” (Hint: Don’t say “I feel” when you really mean “I think,” as in “I feel you’re being unreasonable.”)
10. DO use active listening techniques. Make eye contact. Listen carefully without interrupting or talking over your partner. Ask questions to clarify (not challenge) what you are hearing. Then repeat it or paraphrase it, to show you understand, whether or not you agree.
11. DO take time-outs to calm down, if either person’s anger seems to be escalating. Agree ahead of time that time-outs will be, say, 20 minutes long, and be sure there’s a place to go to be apart for that long. If you do take a time-out, tell your partner that’s what you’re doing, before you walk away.
12. DO be willing to apologize, compromise, or agree to disagree, whenever it’s appropriate to do so.