A couple of days ago, I caught a segment of a show in which the psychologist and television personality was giving advice to a couple who were fighting like cats and dogs. What caused me to keep watching the show was my interest in relationship building skills. Not being a stranger to some pretty intense and spirited disagreements myself, I was curious as to what he would say.
Here is what stood out to me: self respect and dignity.
What the psychologist basically told the couple was that at any time when a disagreement or conflict arises, each of them has to be able to conduct themselves with dignity and self respect. When people reduce their disagreements to yelling, criticizing, name calling and other negative behavior, what they have basically done is abandoned their self respect and dignity.
In order to be able to avoid getting into escalating conflict situations, whether it be with a spouse or significant other, or even with co-workers or complete strangers, the most important thing to remember is that you are a respectable and dignified person. Even if the person you disagree with tries to draw you into a petty exchange, if you refuse to compromise your self respect and dignity, you are less likely to have regrets when you look back at the disagreement. I know it may not be easy, but you must resist the urge to get drawn into the negative behavior.
If a person insists on trying to draw you into a compromising situation, the best thing is to remove yourself from their physical space and only re-enter it after they (and you) have had an opportunity to calm down.
If it is necessary to resolve an issue right away and removing yourself from the situation is not practical, I suggest getting a third person who is not emotionally invested in the conflict. The benefit of a third person is that they can view the situation from a more neutral and less emotionally charged perspective and help bring the conflict to a resolution. Another benefit of having a third person is that you and whomever you are disagreeing with become less likely to say things that are not conducive to resolution. People tend to raise their level of conduct when they have a bigger audience.
In the end, the one thought that you have to maintain is that you are a self respecting and dignified person and you will not allow anyone to compromise who you are. Once you start to exist from this position, you will realize that you start to see what a waste of time and energy petty disagreements, like road rage for example, are. You will also have a much more peaceful life.
Nomalanga helps Black Women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s blog at successfulblackwoman.com