Back Home Up Next

Fair Fighting

Generally we think of fights as unpleasant confrontations between two or more people where tempers flare, voices are raised, and angry insults are exchanged. Fights need not be this way. They are normal and necessary in most relationships, but dirty, unfair fights only result in bitterness, distrust, and feelings of revenge. Clean, fair fights, on the other hand, are confrontations where disagreements and grievances are dealt with according to a specific set of rules. At the end of a fair fight most people feel refreshed and relieved because a sensitive issue has been settled in a constructive way.

The following rules must be observed when conducting a clean, fair fight: No hitting below the belt - purposely calling attention to known weaknesses or sensitive areas. No false agreements - pretending to go along or to agree when you don't. No character analysis or psychoanalyzing - telling a person what they are thinking, feeling, or why they acted as they did. No stereotyping - labeling or name-calling. No gunny sacking - saving up minor grievances and dumping them all at once rather than dealing with them one at a time as they occur. No playing archaeologist - digging up past happenings.

Don't generalize - using statements such as "You always..." or "You never..." to describe a person's behavior. Stick to the issue - dealing with only one issue at a time. Don't drop "the bomb" - over-reacting to a situation and making idle threats; giving an ultimatum. Avoid "round robin" fights - continuing with repetitive, stale arguments where no progress is being made toward conflict resolution.

The purpose of arguments and conflict is to resolve difficulties or solve problems, not to assign blame or to find fault. Do not keep score. Do not lecture. Differentiate between behavior and being. Treat everyone with regard and respect. Do not judge the perceptions and feelings of others. Accept differences. And don't forget the best part of all fights -- making up afterwards. Making up is an essential part to complete resolution.

- Author Unknown