We all lose our temper sometimes, and in most cases it doesn’t help solve the situation we are in. RESCU talked to Dr. John Demartini, Human Behaviour Specialist and Author of The Values Factor about strategies to diffuse an argument by connecting to others through their values, creating a shared understanding that a relationship can be built on.
RESCU: Today we are welcoming back Dr John Demartini human behavioural specialist and the author of the values factor, one of the most important books to help you discover all the possibilities of life and one that I refer to very regularly. Today I want to know how to diffuse an argument, whether it be in a personal situation or a work situation.
Dr DeMartini: Well probably the wisest thing to do is to keep your mouth quiet and just not start one! But if you find yourself in an argument the wisest thing to do is to listen. Most people when they’re communicating, or trying to communicate will reveal to you what you can say next in order to diffuse an argument. You also want to make sure that you stick to the facts, not the opinions.
When you are communicating with people if you go with objective information instead of subjective bias information you have less defences. Also, make sure that you are clearly stating your views and calmly stating, because if you are calm they tend to stay calm and they won’t get riled up. The second you get righteous, opinionated, and really subjectively bias in your perspective they automatically initiate their defence mechanism and that starts the whole escalation of an argument. So the wise thing to do is just be calm, objective and listen very carefully. State the facts not just emotions.
RESCU: Do you have any advice on how to change your state because the very fact that you are in an argument suggests that you have probably flipped your lid a little bit. So, do you have any tips on how to catch yourself before that elevation of state happens?
Dr DeMartini: Realise that everybody has a different view and a different vantage point in the world. No two people’s views are the same. It is wise to stop, take a deep breath, slowly exhale which calms down the physiology. Stop and think of the facts before you speak. There is no reason you can’t pause and make sure you’re saying something that you know you can objectively demonstrate. Nobody can really argue with objective facts, they can argue with your opinions. If you just keep self righteously projecting your opinions on them you’re going to get an escalation. If you just keep to the facts and care enough to communicate in their values, think about what is important in their life. If they are having children and their focus is children, or their business, education. Whatever is important to them if you think of ways in communicating in a way that they are going to get, they calm down and they are less likely to escalate into an argument.
RESCU: Can you give an example of how that might work in a personal argument communicating to your partner’s values? Whether it be your male or female partner.
Dr DeMartini: Well I’ve seen this in couples, he will be thinking in terms of business or sometimes she’s thinking of business I’ve seen both. She may be thinking of the kids, if they have kids depending on their age. If he is thinking we need to do this because it’s going to help business and their finances, she’s not hearing it because she is thinking what about the kids and what about family and what about health and social interactions. Whatever is valuable to her if he is neglecting that and not caring enough to bring that into conversation she shuts down further and feels unheard.
RESCU: What would be an example if a man is communicating to a woman who is really valuing family, social interactions and the children- what could be some ways that he could, in that argument, diffuse the situation by introducing some of her values into the conversation?
Dr DeMartini: Lets just say he has a business and is going to be home late and is going to continue to do that because he is working on a project and she is wanting him to be home to be there with the kids, to make sure he knows his kids.
RESCU: I’m sure this happens a lot.
Dr DeMartini: Yes, we might have to put a sign on the kid saying this is your sons name! If he goes and says, honey I have been thinking about you, I care about you and I care about the kids. I know for the future of the children and their education and their health and the lifestyle that we both want, if I do these few hours in the evening now, we will have more time in our future. I want to make sure the kids have the best education because I don’t want them to ever not have the greatest opportunities and I know that you deserve to have your beauty and your shopping, and the things that you love doing and this allows us to have all of that. So, I just want to take a few extra hours to get this project done, it will mean a lot to me and I think it will help everyone in the family and I’m doing this for me but also because I really see in the future we will have a greater life. If he talks in terms of her she’s more receptive.
RESCU: It’s true, I mean even listening to you I can hear that that script is immediately diffusing.
Dr DeMartini: Can I share a funny one? Many years ago when I was married I would sometimes be gone for a month at a time and we were living in New York at the time and I told my wife, well i’m going to be gone for a month or so, I’ll try to call you and I’ll see you when I can – high five see you later babe. That’s probably going to end a relationship. If I communicate with her, look her in the eye and hold her for a minute and say, I’m going on a tour, I’m going to generate close to half a million dollars, is there any way you could coordinate a rendezvous in Venice in 30 days because I’ll want us to share this. I’d like to know if you’ll meet me in Venice because you’re a friend I want to spend time with, I want us to go shopping and have a romantic time, just two days to ourselves and celebrate that we’ve had a good month of work. If I talk in terms of what she is wanting she gives me freedom. If I don’t consider that she will make my life very challenging. So people when their values are being met open up and are more receptive. When their values aren’t being met they close down and become more rigid. So communicate with people’s values and you diffuse conflicts before they are made.
RESCU: It’s such good advice. Can you give another example in a business setting? Say for example you are having conflict with an employee or and employer. What could be a script you could use in terms of tapping into their values?
Dr DeMartini: I had a lady, Linda that used to work for me, she had a daughter and was a single parent, making her daughter her most important value. Also, because she was single meeting nice looking guys was pretty high. Her daughter was into equestrian and studying horses, she wanted to to be a vet. She was going to school and had a special event on, but I had a very big event in Las Vegas where 8,000-9,000 people were going to be there and I was going to speak and I really needed her to be there to help sell products, so there was a real conflict because her daughter had an event and I had an event and I wanted her to be at my event but I didn’t want her to lose out on her event.
So I said, I thought it out in advance and sat down for about 30 minutes and I thought about all the things that she could win by coming to Las Vegas with me. I said first of all there’s an equestrian school that is a top notch equestrian school. I thought, there’s 9,000 people that are going to be there, 40/50% of them will be eligible guys and I told her if she comes, I was speaking on the Friday and she could stay until the Saturday or Sunday afternoon, I’ll pay for the extra couple of nights, she can bring her daughter, she can get a percentage of whatever we sell and put it towards her education, and she can go and visit on Saturday the equestrian school. I just kept stacking up things that will make it worthwhile for her to come, and she said let me work it out I’ll talk to my daughter and the possibility of going to visit that school and we’ll be there.
So I cared enough to communicate what I wanted in terms of what she wanted and what was valuable to her, and we both got what we wanted.
RESCU: Such good advice.
Dr DeMartini: It took me about 20-30 minutes to figure out what I was going to say, but the way I said it was a way where everybody won. I think that’s the difference. In business or in personal life caring enough to communicate with other people’s values, and not doing it in a self-righteous way where you think your values are more important than theirs, but to level the playing field, making people feel receptive and open, and you can have a dialogue not an alternate monologue.
RESCU: Thank you so much I think those were some of the clearest and best tips for diffusing an argument in any situation. I really appreciate it and I know our readers will too!
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