BLOG: How To Pull Your Argument Escape Hatch
Logic Will Get You NOWHERE
When you’re in an argument with your beloved and in the heat of it, LOGIC, REASON & PROBLEM SOLVING won’t do you very much good AT ALL.
They can even be like gasoline to a fire – EXPLOSIVE!
In a split second, it can be off-to-the-races and pretty quickly DEVOLVE into ugly rants that go no where or worse, FAST.
Trying to SOLVE the problem in the heat of the moment can SEEM LOGICAL, when really,
searching for a “solution” is at best MISGUIDED. Often the fumbling to resolve the issue blows up in your face.
Why? Because deep down, people don’t actually want to be right, or even get their way. (This base don decade of relationship research by multiple sources, NOT my opinion).
Interaction Over Outcome
It may seem counter-intuitive, yet what matters the most is not the OUTCOME, it’s the INTERACTION.
Turns out, decades of relationship research has shown that what people REALLY want is to be SEEN, HEARD and UNDERSTOOD, especially by their intimate partner.
When this kind of DEEP LISTENING happens between a couple, issues have a way of getting handled or even DISAPPEARING on their own.
See, you can either get triggered, go ROUND & ROUND over “REASONS”, trying to resolve an issue, and getting not only nowhere, but FURTHER from where you want to be…
You can SEEK OUT and PRACTICE the kind of COMMUNICATION SKILLS that leave you both feeling seen, heard and understood.
You DON’T Have To Solve the Problem
Communication is KEY (And Complicated)
We’ve all heard (and likely experienced) it before, and Raj and I are here to say it again – COMMUNICATION IS KEY! It’s KEY and yet it’s also COMPLICATED. There are sooooo many places where communication can BREAK DOWN.
FIRST – You have a THOUGHT and have to put it into WORDS – Your message loses a lot already right there and you haven’t even opened your mouth yet! And if you’re upset, you’re not thinking clearly and often skip right past thinking and just REACT.
THEN – Your partner has to actually HEAR what you say. Challenging, considering you are likely interrupting each other and talking over one another by this point.
STILL – Even if your partner does hear you correctly, they then have to DE-CODE the words and make it into MEANING in their own mind. Another huge opportunity for MISINTERPRETATION again.
FINALLY – You have your own REACTIONS and the process repeats.
The point is, there’s plenty of OPPORTUNITY FOR ERROR in any kind of communication, let alone an emotional or triggered argument.
We Searched, So You Can Soar
So Raj and I set out to research all the COMMUNICATION MODELS we could get our hands on.
There’s A LOT out there and it can get pretty CONFUSING pretty fast, and terribly hard to remember, especially under the stress of an upset.
After sifting through mountains of material, Raj and I want to share one of the very best communication models as an ESCAPE HATCH to unhealthy, unproductive anger and arguments.
This communication model works SO WELL, that if it isn’t working, you likely aren’t doing it right and should look at the directions again.
There are many fantastic tools for communication out there and we recommend you EXPERIMENT with and practice with as many as you come across until you have a well stocked communication TOOL BELT.
An Argument Escape Hatch
Easy Access to the Amazing “Imago Dialog”
By far, our FAVORITE and most commonly used communication practice is the Imago Dialog, created nearly 30 years ago by relationship education icons, Harville Hendrix and his wife, Helen Hunt.
They’ve created a BRILLIANT MAP for communicating that gives step by step instructions to help you unhook from upset, say no to separateness, and get you on the SAME TEAM again.
Now when you are in an argument, let’s just say it’s likely not your most clear and level headed thinking. Quite literally your chemistry takes over and fight or flight kicks in. JUST when you need it, that’s when it’s most difficult to remember it.
So to make the Imago Dialog easier to access, even in times of upset, we created a MEMORY GAME (a mnemonic device) to remind us of just what to say, especially when we are in the “heat of it”.
The overall idea is to SEND a message with intention and skill and even more importantly, to RECEIVE a message with intention and skill.
Let’s take a look at the Imago Dialog practice itself and the memory games that make it EASY to ACCESS when you need it MOST.
“Sea Worthy” Sender
Telling your beloved how you feel and what you want during an argument may feel like you’re sailing into a storm. The waters may get choppy.
You can handle it! IF you use this practice to SEND a message with the commitment to make sure it actually makes it THROUGH to your beloved. OK so that memory game I promised….
Raj and I took the first letter of each step of the Imago Dialog and created a sentence from them that would both REMIND us of the steps and INSPIRE us to actually USE them.
What do you do when you REALLY want to get your message across AND create intimacy with your beloved?
I think to myself – “IF my intention is to actually get my message across, then I better focus on delivering it skillfully.
And if I really want a result, well then All It Takes Is Vision, Wisdom and Relatedness.”
It’s not what you say, it’s what your beloved HEARS. So take some care not to just get it off your chest, but to make sure it LANDS for them too. Here’s the gist on how SENDING a message in the Imago Dialog works…
- A = Appointment – Make sure it’s a good time to talk. If it’s too heated in the moment, take a break and pick a time to come back to it when you are better able to.
- I = Intentional – Have a clear, forward focused intention or goal.
- T= Topic – Stick to one topic at a time (and be brief).
- I = “I statements” – Avoid using “you,” stick to “I.”
- V = Voice – Use a calm, clear tone of voice.
- W = Words – Choose your words carefully.
- R = Reinforce – Reinforce what is working, and any positive steps taken.
“All It Takes Is Vision, Wisdom and Relatedness”
End ANY Argument In An Instant!
It’s Easier to Give than Receive
The “sender” role is usually EASIER than the receiver’s role as the sender trying to get a message OUT. There is more comfort, control and safety there.
Often, with unpredictable information coming at you, with less control and comfort, it’s even more challenging to RECEIVE a message from your partner.
The thing is, the receiver skill can be like MAGIC as it has the power to end an argument in an instant.
GET It & Go Forward
If you just stop reacting and defending long enough to remember that your partner is 90% likely to be responding to something from their childhood and NOT what they THINK they are upset about now…
If you stop to just “GET” your partner’s experience, to really HEAR them, EVEN if you disagree with what they have to say, well most often, (and I mean practically ALWAYS) – they melt.
And so do the arguments. Without ANY effort on “resolving” the argument at all!
For the “receiver” of the communication, this reminder is a sentence based on the first letter of each of the receiver steps…
- L = Listen – – Listen without interrupting. Not just to understand, but so they feel seen, heard and gotten.
- M = Mirror – Match your partner. Their energy, tempo of speaking, body posture, etc.
- S = Summarize – Make sure you heard them correctly. Reflect back what“ your partner said, use their words, yet don’t be a parrot. Ask “Did I get it? Is there more?”
- V = Validate – This is about acknowledging that you are NOT your partner and you can see how THEY might have come to the conclusion they did, EVEN when you don’t agree with it.
- E = Empathize – Imagine how they might feel and share that with them. “I can see how that must have been painful.”
It’s a practice. It’s a mantra. It’s an anchor in the storm…“Loving More Seals Victory Every Time.”
INVEST In Intimacy, Melt Any Malice
This practice works so well, if it’s not working, you’re not doing it right. Just LISTENING to each other and being able to PROVE that you GET IT by giving it back to them and confirming you understood it, and you empathize with their experience, EVEN if it conflicts with your own.
If you’re WILLING to develop the muscle to be able to handle your partner’s MELTDOWNS, to be caring and compassionate, not reactive or resigned, you’ll enjoy a trust, intimacy, and joy unknown before and will be well on your way to a playful, peaceful, passionate, P3 Relationship.
This takes day-to-day practice. You’ll WANT it to become a HABIT. It’s an investment in intimacy that evolves as you and your relationship do.
Communication is KEY, especially in your intimate relationships. And the Imago Dialog is one of the best ways to MELT any MALICE and find your way back to feeling in love again.
- Put the sentences "All It Takes Is Vision, Wisdom, & Relatedness" and "Loving More Seals Victory Every Time" and the actual steps of the Imago Dialog, (Sender nd Receiver), where you can see it often throughout the day. Bathroom mirror, car dashboard, cell phone or desktop main screen, etc).
- Look at your reminders regularly, best if done daily. Say the sentences out loud. Do this until you have the steps memorized.
- Practice doing an Imago Dialog with your beloved BEFORE you get into an argument so you have an experience of how it works, BEFORE you get triggered by a fight.
- Next time you and your beloved start to get into a conflict, invite your partner to do an Imago Dialog with you. Follow the instructions step by step. If it's not working, you're likely not doing it right. It works THAT well.
Your Ally in Aiming for Awesome,
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