Let the other person know that he/she is important. Their feelings are important.
Avoid name calling and demeaning the other person, which will only make the other person defensive. Don't criticize a person; discuss specific aspects of his/her behavior rather than criticizing.
Talk in a manner that is clear and specific. Ask for clarification and feedback. Avoid saying, "You always........," or "You never.......,". Be direct and honest. Say what you mean, mean what you say.
Don't tell the other person what he/she is thinking or feeling. The only way to know is to ask.
Stay focused on one issue at time, and work through to resolution.
Don't bring up past issues. Try to let go of past issues. If you want to revisit old issues, focus only on one issue at a time. Work towards understanding how your partner feels, share your honest feelings, and work toward compromise and building future trust.
When differences arise, look for compromises rather than right-wrong, good-bad categories. Work towards solutions. Present ideas on how to improve the situation or how to make things better. Resolutions are often a matter of give and take.
Use "I feel" messages instead of "You are" messages. For example, say, "I feel hurt when you ignore me!" but do not say, "You are selfish and inconsiderate for ignoring me."
Understand that we have different perceptions of the same event or experience. Therefore, don't waste time arguing over who is right or wrong. The task is to understand the other person's perception and to work towards solutions.
Should the discussion escalate and become destructive, either person may suggest that the discussion be stopped and resumed at a later date and time. You must be specific about the date and time to resume.
Deal with problems as they arise, or set a time to deal with the problem. Don't allow the problems to build until there is a major blowup.
Write a list of rules that feel right for your relationship. Have them handy when you are problem solving or having a heated discussion.
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