As a result of differences in people, disagreements happen everywhere and every time, although it is still perfectly natural to achieve mutual understandings and common solutions in the realm of disagreements. The challenge arises in the methods we apply to resolve these differences. It is quite normal when two adults sit opposite each other and try to overcome their problems however another possibility is the development of the conflict and the use of forbidden methods (verbal conflict only).
These verbal reactions not only offend the partner but also actuate further development of the conflict, accumulating a heavy load in the memory of each participant. Alas, unlike the sparrow that can fly away and be caught, words can not be recaptured. That is why there is a ban on the usage of destructive words, which must be avoided in any quarrel. What are these words?
Such include “always”, “every time”, “constantly” and “never”. Examples are — “You never understand me”; “You always leave dirty tracks from shoes in the hallway“; I’m always late because of you” or “I always have to wait for you”. When you say these words, your partner’s hearing perception is that they never do things in a right way, which in fact is not the case. Further, you begin to devalue situations where in reality your partner behaved admirably and they begin to feel undermined because:
a) it means that you did not notice before that they behaved differently
b) it means they constantly makes mistakes that should’ve been addressed earlier.
Moreover, these words trigger a defensive reaction in your partner, and, instead of hearing you, they incorporate a self-defensive and justification strategy.
Unfortunately, there is only one way to get rid of these destructive words — “catch yourself using word”, that is, as soon as you utter these words, stop, breathe in and try to paraphrase what was said, avoiding these words and preventing the conflict from escalating. If you are on the receiving end of these words, use the “Self–message“, letting your partner know how you feel, for example: “When you say that I never understand you, I feel very hurt, because …“. (Details on “Self-message” techniques are in our trainig programs). It’s a useful technique that helps to shift the conflict from the “adult-child” position to the “adult-adult” position, or from destructive conflict into constructive conflict.
Of note, the main difference between destructive and constructive conflict is that the result of constructive conflict is peace and greater understanding and the partners get closer to solving the problem. On the contrary, a destructive conflict leaves a feeling of even greater alienation and resentment.
Manipulative phrases and other forbidden expressions in conflict such as “If you love me for real, you…” and “You do not love me at all…“ will be discussed in a future post.