Christmas and New Year are supposed to be times of celebration but all too often, especially within families, it becomes a period of stress and conflict with arguments that can reverberate for a long time afterwards.
One of the traps many people fall into is blaming the other person. Blaming gets you nowhere because, more often than not, the person being blamed instinctively feels he or she is under attack and they become defensive. In most cases either they retire and hide away, or go into denial, or they become verbally or even physically aggressive. Either way, when someone becomes defensive it’s virtually impossible to get through to them, and both parties end up frustrated.
This is important because in order for two people to reconcile an argument, they need to be able to communicate heart to heart because, whether or not you realise it, both parties feel hurt, angry, or whatever. Unless you can both relate on a heart level, it becomes a battle of egos and the disagreement continues.
Another aspect of this same problem is the danger of getting into an intellectual argument. In such a case, the cleverer or more eloquent or more persuasive or more manipulative party always “wins.” But actually, neither party wins.
I have a brilliant technique for effectively dealing with personal conflicts which almost always yields a win/ win solution. It’s called the broken record technique and it needs to be executed with sensitivity.
This is how it works: When someone close to you makes you feel angry or hurt by blaming or judging you for something you did or said, you simply say something like, “when you do that I feel really hurt (or angry or whatever).”
If the other person continues blaming and attacking you, you simply repeat, “yes, but when you do that I feel really hurt.”
This is very subtle. Firstly you are saying how you feel, and nobody can argue with that. If the other person says, “well you shouldn’t feel hurt,” you reply is, “but I do.” Eventually the other person will realise their blaming isn’t working and you are not feeling guilty, and in most cases they will become more conciliatory, because you have also given them a way of backing down gracefully, without losing face. So they might say, “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I’m sorry.”
Now we are getting somewhere! You are also very careful not to throw any blame back on them. You are simply owning your own feelings and telling the other person, if you do this, my reaction is that. Once you have stated your truth, their reaction is up to them.
Of course some people don’t pick up your clues and carry on blaming regardless. In such a case you may have to acknowledge that no resolution is possible. But most important, you got it off your chest in a clean way and you have not been crushed!