Everybody has arguments. It’s an inevitable part of life.  How we approach an argument can impact how we will be heard and whether we will be understood.

Dr. Ronald Alexander, director of the Open Mind Training Institute, shares that that arguments can have negative effects on our health if we let them get out control. Chemicals released while we are in an angry or anxious state of mind can cause undue stress on our nervous and immune systems.   Dr. Alexander quoted  Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser as saying:

“We’re not saying that conflicts in marriage are necessarily bad. They’re completely normal. It’s the way the couples disagreed that was later related to a rise in hormone levels and a drop in immune function. It’s the quality of the disagreement.”

It was interesting to read how our minds can impact our health in one way or another.

What are some ways to increase the likelihood that an argument will remain calm and in turn not adversely affect your health? Dr. Alexander recommends mindful listening. This involves a few things.

Listen to what your partner has to say now

This will shed light on what they are thinking and feeling. It may also help identify the point at which your partner or both of you find your argument spawned.  Try to stay in the moment and not bring up old issues – focusing on the present is one of the main premises of mindful listening and speaking.

Recognize the pattern

You may notice that you have been arguing about the same thing for some time now without any positive results.  Now that you are listening mindfully, you are attentive to your partner’s speech and how you respond to them.  By keeping things in the present you may be able to see what it is that comprises the circular patterns you are repeating in your communication.

Let go of the power struggle

Dr. Alexander states that after you have realized what the pattern is, try to let it go! Take turns with your partner to really listen to each other.   Letting each person speak and be fully heard will allow both partners to wholly communicate what it is that has been bothering them. You may be surprised to learn something new about your partner here!

Use ‘I’ statements

In the conclusion of the article, Dr. Alexander recommends using ‘I’ statements and taking turns stating what you are feeling, what you realize  you have been doing, and how you propose that you are going to change your behavior for the better.  An example phrase he uses is:

“I recognize that what you’re saying is ______ and the action that I will take to create a shift is _______.  What I promise to do differently is _______ and the request that I have for you in return is _______.”

What are some approaches you use? What seems to work?

Check out this book on Amazon for some more relationship advice: Love More, Fight Less. It highlights some great ideas on how to communication in healthy ways, even when tensions arises. (Affiliate Link)