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An Honest Argument

It may seem odd to make sure people speak the truth when there’s a disagreement or argument, but of course it happens that people don’t speak the truth. Sometimes, it’s that things get so bad that they really stop speaking entirely. They want to address the problem, but the respect is gone and arguments solve nothing. Other times, people are forgetting the whole truth. They remain ignorant of their own perspective on the situation and fail to work out differences with another person by deconstructing their assumptions about what the problem is. In either case, getting to the truth is difficult.

One main reason people don’t speak honestly during an argument is when they’re in a relationship that’s falling apart. This tends to fall into less speaking rather than less truth. The Gottman Institute did a detailed study about couples and discovered that those couples that fell into a pattern of pushing away and turning away. What they found is that one partner may likely become the eye roller with a harsh tone and the other may likewise become a quiet cloud of silence. In that sense, one partner is pushed into no longer bothering to say anything since they don’t feel they are being heard. Obviously, and similarly, if someone denies what they did and avoids acknowledging offenses, it can be just as bad. Clear, honest listening as well as talking is important.

A more subtle scenario is that people think they are speaking the truth, but they aren’t really speaking the whole truth sometimes when there’s a disagreement. The book Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When Stakes Are High goes into great detail about how to step through disagreements carefully and thoroughly. The basics are that one must be clear about the facts, trace those facts back to personal interpretation, and be sure to include ones thoughts and feelings at every step.

The most honest we can be in any disagreement is to focus on resolving a solvable problem rather than devolving into name calling or creating an unsolvable situation. If both people aren’t interested in solving something, then it can be difficult. However, as long as at least one person focuses on a solvable problem, then there is hope that people can get to a working agreement.

Read a 4 minute article about keys to relationships (Gottman Institute)

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