Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

How To Fight And Argue With Empathy

Directly telling someone they’ve upset us is difficult. Most of us prefer to stay silent and smiley, because we’re afraid our honesty might scare them off. 

We want to be easygoing. Not more trouble than we’re worth.

Besides, our loved ones are usually only guilty of minor slip-ups. Like being less communicative than normal, showing up exhausted to date night, or not replying to our texts with enough heart and kissy emojis.

Many transgressions feel so small that we don’t feel entitled to make a fuss.

But bottling up our hurt doesn’t make our disappointment go away. And it doesn’t keep our special person from repeating their mistake.

If we receive enough of these small emotional blows, eventually, our calm demeanour will make place for irritation and anger.

And lead to an intense and unexpected fight.

That’s why it’s crucial for the longevity of our relationships that we learn to speak up after someone hurts us.

And we need to do it with compassion too. Or else we’ll just be met with resistance and drive the other person off.

How do you stay compassionate in the most trying circumstances?

Non Violent Communication. An approach created by clinical psychologist Marshall Rosenberg that fosters empathy.

It involves four steps:

  1. Observe. What actions are currently negatively affecting your well-being?
  2. Feel. How does their behaviour make you feel?
  3. Identify your needs. What do you need to feel better?
  4. Request. Ask the other person for what you’d like.

An example.

“You haven’t been reciprocating my physical affection tonight. That makes me feel a little confused and lonely. Could you please hold me and share if anything is bothering you?”

Or suppose you’re arguing.

“Your loud voice and large gestures are making me feel a little uneasy. Could you please lower your voice and try to understand my perspective? Then I’ll do my best to do the same for you.”

Notice how none of these dialogues include evaluations. Labeling someone’s actions as cold, angry, or bad isn’t helpful. It doesn’t get us closer to solving the problem.

Compassion, however, does lead to faster solutions.

It helps you connect with each other’s feelings and needs so you can tackle the problem together.

Remember: being honest about the big and small things that upset you doesn’t make you petty or difficult to be with. Your honesty is precisely what keeps the love alive and resentment at bay.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach