How To Move On During An Argument

Photographed by Lula Hyers.
During any relationship conflict or difficult conversation, there often comes a point when you feel like you've just hit a wall, and you're not moving forward. Or, so many pent-up emotions get unleashed that you start saying things you don't mean.
"Very often when people speak to each other, they speak from their own frustrations and anger," says Jane Greer, New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. "They’re conversations that, from the start, are blaming other people. Then the other person will instantly get defensive and counter them by coming back with something they’re upset about or don’t like about the other person."
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Even though it's easy for disagreements to turn into ping pong matches where no one is heard and everyone ends up frustrated, Dr. Greer says that, it's important to remember what you're fighting for in the first place.
"The most important thing is to keep in mind that you and your partner are on the same team so you want to communicate with an awareness for what they’re feeling," she says.
With that in mind, Dr. Greer gave some of her advice for what to say to resolve conflict in the most productive way possible.
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Use the word 'we.'

Use the word 'we.'

Hopefully, you and your partner are both fighting to move your relationship forward — and it's important to express that.

Dr. Greer suggests starting the conversation with "We're both upset," which acknowledges how you feel without placing the blame on either one of you.

"You’re on the same team," she says. "Take responsibility for your own behavior — say, 'I know there are things I do that upset you, and there are things I’m upset with you about. Can we talk about this?'"
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Be careful with 'I' statements.

Be careful with 'I' statements.

Using "I" statements like, "I felt upset when you did this" can be a great way of letting someone know how their actions affected you, but Dr. Greer says that too often people use "I" statements to be accusatory, like "I feel like you're really heartless."

"If you’re going to use 'I' statements, you have to do the emotional math and translate it: Figure out what you’re upset with and ask yourself what impact that person’s behavior had on you," she says. "Did it hurt your feelings, or make you feel rejected? And then start from there, with something like, 'I felt really hurt when you said this.'"
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Share what the situation looks like from your point of view.

Share what the situation looks like from your point of view.

Dr. Greer says that talking about how you perceive the situation can help parse out any misunderstandings you both might have.

So, for example, you can try something like, "The story I’m telling myself is this. If I’m getting it right or wrong, help me better understand it."
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Take a break from the conversation.

Take a break from the conversation.

Sometimes, you just have to hit pause.

If you've been talking and going around in circles, Dr. Greer says it might be a good idea to take a break and come back to the conversation when you've both had some time to clear your heads.

"Acknowledge you’re both upset and try to take some time to think about it," she says. "Think about what you want them to do differently, ask them to think about what they want you to do differently, and set aside a time to talk about it in a few days."
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