They say that it “takes two to tango”, I have never (knowingly) tangoed so I will take their word for it. I say that it “takes two to argue,” have you ever yelled at a brick wall? It is no fun at all!
We always like to blame each other for getting into a fight, and we think to ourselves, “if only s/he had done or said that this would not have got so ugly”. But how is it that we keep finding ourselves upset with each other and occasionally things even get out of hand?
Professor John Gottman says that the way you open up a conversation or discussion has a huge impact on it. When you start on the right food you can get into a deep, heavy and emotional charged topic and come out of it closer together. Start in the wrong way and the fireworks are going to fly and you will end up further apart.
The skill is to avoid harsh start-ups and instead us soft start-ups.
Some ways you can bring up a tetchy subject successfully include: complain about the event without criticizing or blaming the other person, talk about how you feel – not what they did wrong, be clear, be polite, be appreciative of what they are doing or the effort they have been making and finally, don’t let things brew until you are ready to pop your cork.
Prof. Gottman has noticed that women are more likely to make the harsh start-up as they are the ones that are more likely to want to talk about something, but it is something we all need to improve on.