When we're tired and arguing, we have a tendency to go around in circles. It's really quite frustrating. He'll state his argument. I'll argue with his argument. He'll argue with my argument. Sometimes we're arguing about nothing. When that happens, we're pretty good about cutting ourselves off by saying, "We're both really tired; let's go to sleep."
Sometimes, though, we're arguing about real stuff--real frustrations or resentment. Last night it occurred to me that we should use one of the techniques I taught my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders when I taught at a public Montessori school last year. Basically, when an argument goes around and around, one person stops and asks, "What do you need me to do so you can feel better about this?" The person lists his/her needs, and the other person tries very hard to commit to them. Then it flips and the process reverses.
It's simple, but I think it's a great way to shift the conversation from reactive to proactive. Instead of wallowing in misery, you refocus on concrete next steps for fixing the problem.
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