BLOG: How to Avoid Argument On-Ramps
I Was JUST About To Do It!
Do you CRINGE when your beloved asks you to do something that you were JUST about to do? For some reason it can be INFURIATING!
So what do you do?
You could SNAP at them and say “I was JUST about to do it! Get off my back! You’re so controlling!”
You COULD. Although it WON’T go well. It’ll make things EVEN WORSE.
Emotional Ping Pong
This unnecessary and potentially disastrous dynamic used to drive Raj and I NUTS.
I’d ask him to do something. He’d snap…”Get off my back! I was JUST about to do it!”
Then I’d snap right back… “How was I supposed to know you were JUST about to do it?” I CAN’T READ YOUR MIND and you haven’t done it YET!”
And thus would begin the emotional ping pong, pecking at each other with our blame back and forth.
Where that would stop, no one could know.
On a tough day, if a computer had crashed or the internet was down, or one of us had missed a meal or a deadline was overdue, look out! Things could go south FAST.
And almost always it was over NOTHING!
Great Minds Think Alike
Take It Down A Notch
Then one day, when we were slipping into this ugly, unhelpful, snapping ritual AGAIN and we managed to pause. Or I should say Raj did anyway.
“Wait a minute.” he said… “Let’s take it down a notch. We’ve been here before. On MORE than a few occasions. We KNOW this dynamic does NOT work. So let’s do something about it.”
So we did what we do with all our repeat arguments and areas of recurring tension…
We named it.
This repeat, ugly, unhelpful dynamic needed a name so we could spearate from the current moment and really get it was a pattern and NOT about what was happening in the current moment.
“I Was JUST About To…Get Off My Back”
From Friction Factor to Peace Practice
Still, that name didn’t sound too fun to engage with so we went to work on a solution that could be the new name for this dynamic that we were so committed to shifting.
We wanted a name for how we WANTED it to go.
We took the piece that was causing friction (a Friction Factor) and translated it into a habit that would help us regain intimacy (a Peace Practice).
When we looked at the pattern, we realized if we were BOTH thinking about a task at the same time then that was a GOOD thing.
And if we ever asked each other about a task that remained undone, we could just say:
“Great minds think alike!”
It was shorthand for “Thanks for the reminder. I can see your concern for this getting done.
Don’t worry about it love.
I’ve got this. I’ve got you.”
I’ve Got This, And You
Now next time your partner tells you what to do and you were just about to do it…look at them, smile and say “Great Minds Think Alike!”
You get to let them know you had it on your radar, you’re on top of it and they can RELAX and forget about it – you’ve got this and them!
When Raj and I did it the old way, we would both end up upset. Often into a downward spiral of tension and testiness.
Now when Raj says “Great minds think alike,” I can soften and say…“Sorry if I’m a bit anxious about it getting done. Thanks for being on top of it.”
This is just one SMALL shift that made a BIG difference in how we relate with each other on a day-to-day basis.
1. Write out "Great Minds Think Alike." Post it where you can see it -- such as your bathroom mirror, car dashboard or even your fridge. Or take a picture and put it on your phone's home screen or computer so that it stays visible and alive until the use of the new phrase becomes a habit.
2. The next time your beloved asks you to do something you were just about to do, instead of getting angry, just say, "great minds think alike!" It's best to smile when you say it -- and meant it!
3. The next time your beloved says "great minds think alike," take a deep breath and say "thank you"
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