In today’s world, it’s challenging to avoid conflicts – whether with our intimate partners, or simply with people at the grocery store or on social media. How do you take control of any fight so that you can create the best outcome? How do you resolve conflicts in a way that helps bring you closer to others, instead of widening the divide between you? In this week’s episode we’ll cover some important ways for you to steer arguments towards a place where you can “win” without suffering the costs of victory. Wondering what I mean? Come aboard with me in this week’s episode.
As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!
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Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Today we’re going to tackle how to win any argument, how to come out on top in terms of any conflict that you might have. It’s an important topic, especially in today’s divided world and specifically, in the ways that we can be driven apart from our partners by deep seemingly unresolvable conflicts. So today, I’m going to give you three important steps to win any argument, resolve the conflict, and get on with the business of living your life hopefully in as joyous a way as possible and connected a way as possible.
Neil Sattin: First, I just want to remind you that Relationship Alive is an offering for me to you to help you have the most successful thriving relationships possible. If you are finding the show to be beneficial for yourself or for people that you care about, please consider a donation to support Relationship Alive and our mission. You can choose anything that feels right for you and every little bit truly does help. So to pick something that will feel good, just visit NeilSattin.com/support or you can text the word support to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.
Neil Sattin: This week, I want to thank Keerthi, Angie, Jules, Cynthia, Thomas, Debra, Meredith, Kent, Laura, Sarah, and another Neil. Thank you all so much for your generous and ongoing contributions to Relationship Alive. As you might expect, today we are going to be covering topics that really dive deep into how we communicate with others. So if you haven’t grabbed it yet, please do download my free guide to my top three relationship communication secrets. These are the kinds of things that will help you stay connected no matter how challenging the topic is that you’re talking about, so it’s going to go right hand-in-hand with what we’re going to talk about on today’s show. To download the free guide, just visit NeilSattin.com/relate or text the word relate to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.
Neil Sattin: And finally, before we dive in, just a reminder that we have a free group on Facebook, the Relationship Alive Community, where you can find more than 4,000 other people who listen to the show and who are there to have generative supportive conversations about how to do relationships well, along with all the other parts that come along with relationships; breakups, heartache, dating, finding love, and all the parts in between, so come talk to us, celebrate with us, commiserate with us and join the fun. Oh, one last thing, if there’s something going on for you that you would like me to answer on the show, just email yourself talking about it to questions at relationshipalive dot com and I will keep you anonymous and answer your question on the show. If you don’t feel comfortable talking, you can just write it down, but hopefully, you feel comfortable talking at least enough so that other people can hear your voice. I think it’s a nice touch. We’ve been able to do that a couple of times in the show already and I am looking forward to your questions. Alright, so let’s dive in with the top three ways to win any argument, and I don’t know if you can hear it in my voice, but I’m smiling a bit when I say win any argument because the reality is that winning an argument is actually not the goal.
Neil Sattin: Now, I’m going to tell you a little bit more about this in a moment. It’s going to factor in more to tip number two and tip number three, so let’s just start with figuring out why this is important, where is this coming from? As I mentioned at the top of the show, it feels like we’re living in a world that’s becoming more and more divided, more and more polarized, and this is also playing out even in our most intimate relationships because we can feel paralyzed or like we can’t act and we can’t resolve simple things like who’s going to initiate sex? Who is going to make sure there’s dinner on the table? Who’s going to wash the dishes? What are you going to do when you have a free night? Do you believe in wearing masks and social distancing, or do you not? There are all of these ways, right, that we are constantly discovering that our own opinions about how something should be or ought to be don’t necessarily line up with the other people in our lives. And we can resolve to just yell at each other and not get anywhere. We can resolve to yell at each other until one or the other person gives up.
Neil Sattin: We can resolve to just never fight about anything. I don’t think any of those solutions really get us anywhere, and I think this topic is really key and it’s going to be even more key because they say a divided house cannot stand. I think that’s what they say. I can’t remember who said it and actually, I’m going to look it up right now. Okay, you gotta love the internet and also the ability to hit the pause button on my recording software. So, of course like many good things the house divided against itself cannot stand. It does come from the Bible, it comes from the New Testament. That’s actually not what I was thinking of though. So maybe we’ll talk more about that aspect of it a little bit later. I was actually thinking of the reference by Abraham Lincoln, known as His House Divided Speech, which he gave when he had accepted the Republican Party nomination to be Illinois US Senator. This was back in 1858 so it was before the Civil War. And the greater context is that he was saying that he didn’t believe that the government could endure if we didn’t resolve the question of slavery and of course, he wanted to abolish slavery, so this was the rallying cry for the Republicans at the time to take up the cause of abolition and emancipation.
Neil Sattin: So all super important aspects of the United States’ history and I think that the same in many ways is true today, it feels like at least in my experience, and this could just be because of the way that we’re connected to each other these days through social media where everything is on display. But it feels like there hasn’t been a time in my experience that we’ve been more outwardly divided than we are now. And where people are saying some pretty scary shit, to be honest with you. Personally, I think that it’s important for us to all learn how to get along with each other and take care of each other, and not just on the national level, but I believe that that’s crucial on the global level, that we as humans really need to learn how to take care of each other and show up for each other and lift each other up. I believe that there is plenty in our world, as long as we’re all on the same side of the table, figuring out how to make it work for all of us.
Neil Sattin: And what’s challenging in arguments or conflict is how we so often end up on opposite sides of the table talking at each other, fighting to win and not fighting for a common purpose. So I’m giving you hints as to where we’re headed, but I wanted to let you know that that’s where this is coming from, I feel like I’ve experienced this in relationships and now in marriages, where the inability to resolve really deep disagreements led to the dissolution of what could have been a more perfect union. So let’s all work together and I’m going to teach you today some very important ways to do that, that are going to make a radical shift for you in terms of how you approach any conflict with anyone.
Neil Sattin: Okay so here’s the first thing, tip number one, the thing that you have to realize is that for the most part, people believe what they are telling you. And in many respects, they believe it passionately. Now, sure, some of us are a little bit more laidback, a little bit more easygoing, and it can happen that if you’re an easy-going person and you’re in a relationship with someone who’s super convinced of their viewpoint, then you could find yourself yielding over and over and over again and just letting things go because to you, it’s not as big a deal, but in the end, that is a surefire way to build resentment and that resentment over time will undermine the fabric of your relationship.
Neil Sattin: So let’s not let go of our viewpoint because we are going to let go of who we are and what we feel is important in the world. And at the same time, let’s recognize firmly that when someone else is telling you something, they probably believe that with every ounce of their heart, being, soul just like you do especially about the things that you feel passionate about, that you feel are important. So without that recognition, there’s no possible way to resolve conflict because you’ll be focused on the wrong thing. Now, what do you do if what the other person believes is based on something that you know for sure to be wrong, to be incorrect? Well this is a really good question. First question that I have for you under those circumstances is how do you know? Can you be absolutely sure that what you believe is 100% correct or 100% the truth or 100% the way it is? It could be that that’s true. I mean it’s possible and maybe what you believe is 95% true and 5% not true, so it gets challenging when the other person believes something that you think might be 10% true and 90% a crock of shit, right? So what do you do in those circumstances?
Neil Sattin: Well, first, you want to recognize that that person believes fully what they’re telling you, or, and this is important, they might not believe what they’re telling you 100% but they believe in the underlying reasons why they are telling you what they are telling you. So they might be 100% invested in their truth but generally, that investment isn’t so much about that specific truth. It’s about what lies underneath it. So can you literally hear first what the other person is saying? Can you acknowledge within yourself that what they’re saying to them is probably pretty close to 100% true, 100% something they believe in? And can you ask yourself, why do they believe in this so much? Why is this so important to them? And then rather than just telling yourself this story over and over again, can you check in with them? Can you check in with them about your assumptions about why it is that they are so convinced of whatever it is they’re telling you? Or why it is that their point of view is so important to them. Can you get to the core of what really matters to them?
Neil Sattin: Now you might ask them a question like “okay, okay, I see that this is… I’m pretty sure this is how you feel about this thing, right?” And make sure you’re hearing them correctly, if you get it wrong, actually, you totally missed it, then you need more information to figure out what it is they’re actually saying. But once you know what they’re saying, then you say “can we go a little bit deeper? Could you tell me a little bit more about why this is important to you?” Or “I have a story about why I think you are saying what you’re saying, can I check in with you about it and see if that’s true?” Now that can be pretty risky, especially, if it’s someone you don’t know, If it’s someone you don’t know very well, then your safest bet is to not lead with your assumptions, it’s to lead by asking them. “Can you tell me more about what’s so important to you here? What are the underlying principles that you live and die by?” And then you might even get out “why are those principles important to you?” If it’s your personal freedom that’s important to you, for instance, if it’s not wanting to be accountable to anyone else. I don’t want to tell you where I was while I was out. You’re not my mother, right?
Neil Sattin: If someone doesn’t want to be accountable to you, then what’s underneath that? “Okay, it sounds like you don’t want to be accountable to me, and I’m not asking you because I want you to be accountable to me. I’m asking you because I’m curious, or I’m asking you because I’m scared. So I’m wondering if you can tell me a little bit more about why it’s so hard for you to answer my questions? ‘Cause I want to know more about you.” So step one is all about understanding the other person. Now, this is something that I go deep, deep, deep into in my secrets of relationship communication course. The course is about three-and-a-half hours of instruction to help you communicate better, to help you understand and be understood, and it’s a master class in the things that I’m talking about in today’s episode. The course as of now is still in beta but because we are all in such close quarters with our loved ones, and because things are getting heated in our public spaces I reopened the beta for now. And if you’re hearing this after the beta has ended, then that’s good, that means the final version is out.
Neil Sattin: And if you sign up for the beta of the course, you’ll also get the final version when it’s ready. And if you want to know more about it, just visit NeilSattin.com/course. There. So step one is all about finding out what’s going on with the other person and checking your assumptions to see if you can dig a little bit deeper and figure out what’s important to them, what’s important to them on the deepest level.
Interested in reading the transcript for steps Number Two and Number 3? Click here to receive the transcript of this episode with Neil Sattin