Identify your arguing style
Don’t fight dirty.
Everyone argues and has conflict from time to time. Arguments can be really upsetting for both of you and depending on how you treat one another during conflicts, they will either bring you closer together or have the potential to increase the emotional distance between you.
Arguments have the potential to lead to greater understanding and new perspectives can deepen your relationship. Being understood and heard can bring you closer. Couples who have learned good communication skills and how to argue productively while still maintaining respect for each other can create a new emotional universe that neither partner could have created alone.
What to watch out for
Are you or your partner using a need-to-win style? This means establishing a superior or dominant position at the expense of your partner.
When these kinds of disagreements escalate, this argument style means you will use behaviours and strategies to win an argument at any cost. The result of this adversarial style is increased distance, unresolved anger, and a very painful and distressing space to both be in.
What is a need to win arguing style?
Need-to-win arguing styles are often unconscious behaviours learned in childhood and then unwittingly carried through in adult relationships. Most people are not even aware of when or where they learned to argue this way or why they continue to do so. They remain stuck because they have constant difficulty resolving their relationship disputes, but do not make the connection between their need-to-win fighting style, and a lack of successful outcomes.
Remember it’s THE WAY you argue, that is the real issue behind actual behind resolving disagreements. When you both understand that a different way of handling arguments can transform arguments from adversarial to a closer union, is when you start taking your relationship to a deeper level.
- The Sulker also known as the silent treatment
Often accompanied by crossed arms and a supercilious expression, the silent treatment is one of the need to win fighting styles, designed to get the other partner to expose his or her thoughts and feelings without doing so him or herself. As the silent partner stays disconnected, the other partner’s distress escalates, giving the winning edge to the one who stays hidden.
When feeling attacked or unnerved, many people fight back by challenging and devaluating any reasons the other partner has for feeling the way he or she does. These focused fighters often use other people’s confirmations of their own point of view to validate their argument and fight dirty by going after the ways their partner has failed in the past. Ie if the partner being invalidated has feelings of concern in one area like maybe losing one’s job or not getting a job, this will be targeted
The goal of this fighting style is to create self-doubt in the other person.
In some relationships, one partner tends to be more dominant, better able to be direct, and more forceful in the way he or she communicates. These people are often in relationships with partners to tend to be quieter, more methodical, and more reflective before they voice their opinions.
When these couples argue, the need-to-win dominant partner is highly likely to use powerful and intense energy to push the argument into greater emotional intensity. The other partner’s ability to fight back is quickly over-powered.
- Piling on other issues
When need-to-win partners feel that they are in danger of losing an argument, they respond by distracting their partner with other issues. Ways of doing this are by rehashing the past, bringing in other problems, or trying to get the other partner to focus on his or her own flaws.
The goal of bringing up additional issues is to confuse the argument
This is done by overloading the situation with past conflicts that are not pertinent at the time. When this fighting strategy works, the other partner finds it impossible to stay on point and is diverted from resolving the initial issue.
- Character assassination
When they feel cornered and losing a fight, many need-to-win fighters resort to this effective but very destructive response. Instead of sticking to the situation at hand, they use tactics to convince their partner that they are basically flawed in some way, using every example they can to drive in their point.
They try to convince their partner that his or her core personality deficits make them unworthy of challenging the issue at hand, or any others. In turn, this makes the accused partner left feeling as if he or she is on the witness stand, forced to defend painful and devaluing judgments.
- Hitting below the belt
During any argument, partners who have history, have access to insider knowledge. This means they know what they can use in an argument and they should know what never to bring up, no matter how heated the argument becomes. It’s a massive betrayal to use the insider knowledge they have of one another’s deepest vulnerabilities to win an argument.
The most serious and relationship-destructive conflicts occur when one or both partners break this trust by using the sacred information they know about the other to gain an unfair advantage during a confrontation. This one of the most destructive arguing styles and it often means that you have lost respect for one another
A sly and insidious but effective strategy to win a fight is to beat oneself up on the other end of any accusation or challenge, and then turn the tables and blame the other partner for the exaggerated self-destruction.
These kinds of arguments serve to make the other’s accusations much worse than they were intended in order to make the attacking partner feel guilty and then back down.
In any committed relationship, threats of abandonment, exile, and escalated aggressiveness are needing-to-win fighting styles intended to make the other partner feel insecure and fearful of loss. The goal is to use that response to have him or her focus on what might be lost if the fight continues. A common phrase used here is ‘I am leaving’. This is especially wounding for a partner who has abandonment issues.
- Feigned indifference to outcome
This partner acts like the ice queen or king. They are great at pretending nothing matters and they are unaffected. Even if inside they are in turmoil Those partners who pretend they don’t care about whether they win or lose can actually win an argument by acting as if they are giving in without really agreeing. The other partner is often aware of the game and there is a feeling of been robbed of power or influence by their partner withdrawing and being indifferent.