Courage to be Curious with Adina Tovell

How to Argue in Productive and Healthy Ways

August 18, 2021 Adina Tovell Episode 155
Courage to be Curious with Adina Tovell
How to Argue in Productive and Healthy Ways
Show Notes Transcript

How to turn your arguments into opportunities for deep connection.

Arguing and fighting are a part of life. And despite how uncomfortable it makes most of us feel, it is an incredibly important and healthy part of life IF we know how to do it well. In this episode, I will share some powerful tips for making your moments of conflict productive so that you end up feeling even more connected at the end. 

How do we do this arguing thing in a healthy way? How do we make it productive, where it actually brings us into deeper connection with the other person, rather than, you know, deteriorating the relationship in some way?

Hi, this is Adina here with this week's episode of courage to be curious with Adina Tovell and we are in the love strand of our themes for the podcast. We have a live a lead and a love theme. And so this episode is really focused on an important topic of how we can care for others that are important to us. Well, the question we're really taking on is, how can we argue in a healthy way? How can we be productive and healthy in the way that we arguing, arguing and fighting with people we care about is totally natural. It is not the sign of a relationship gone bad. It is not the sign that anybody is bad or doesn't care about the other person. But arguing is a natural thing. It is inevitable, even the best relationships. If we eliminated arguing it would probably mean that we stopped really caring deeply about the person. Because when we care really deeply arguing and disagreeing is something that just happens. And so instead of seeing it as something that is horrible, something that is a sign of bad things or failure, what if we shift our perspective and as you know, if you've been listening, we are talking all about perspective this month. And so what happens if we shift our perspective on arguing to something new, and I do want to give credit where credit is due. This was partly inspired by listening to Glennon Doyle, if you don't know her, she is the author of love warrior and untamed. And she now has a podcast called we can do hard things. And she has a fabulous episode. I think it was the June episode if you go and you look for it on fighting. And she had it was Glennon and her wife Abby and her sister were on the episode. But what they were really doing I love to think of it as like the Wizard of Oz and pulling back the curtain and looking at the inside of their lives. And the fighting or arguing part of Glennon and Abby's life. I thought it was a spectacular episode, because it really did it went inside it told us what do they argue about? How does that arguing show up? How does it impact each of them? And then what do they do with it, to build a strong relationship, to use it as a catalyst for deepening the relationship rather than as something that is destructive and pulls them apart and their relationship. So in addition to this episode, I would also invite you to pop on over and listen to that episode, I thought it was absolutely fabulous and had some wonderful takeaways. So if this is something that you care about, and I don't care if the person that you're arguing with most is a co worker, or a friend or a child, or a spouse or a significant other, it doesn't really matter. All of the everything you can hear in this episode and everything you hear and their episode is going to be really informative. So let's dive in and take it on. The first thing I want to think about is when we argue is what actually is an argument, right? So clearly we know it's evidenced by things that people get heated, maybe voices get raised, maybe there's arguing maybe in some cases, there's throwing of things, hopefully not. But you know, people get agitated people get angry. And typically when that happens, too, is that there's this funny thing going on, we almost have we start to talk louder and louder because we think that no matter what we say, we don't feel like we get evidence that the other person is hearing us or that they're really listening. Right. So I've just been Why aren't you listening to me? I mean, right? We in arguments that comes up, why aren't you listening to me? You're not hearing me. This is what I'm saying. And so we shout louder and louder. And so I want to explain why does that happen? As I partly explained, what is an argument? So an argument between two people occurs for one of the two following reasons. Either there is a disconnect between what one person is saying and intending and what another person is hearing and making meaning of what they're saying or doing. And this is because as you hear me talk about all of the time on the podcast, things I write about, is that the human mind is so or human brain is so incredibly complex.

It's why, you know, there have been so many studies, you know, you can have a whole bunch of people, 20 people at the site of a car accident, all of whom witnessed it. But if you do witness accounts, you're going to get different versions of stories from different people, oh, this person seem really angry, oh, this person seemed like they were trying to get out of the way, oh, this person, right, you'll get different interpretations. And how does that happen? It's because we all see and experience things in different ways. So one of the reasons arguments or disagreements happen is because there is a missing of each other, right? There's a cross in the wiring. I said, you know, can you put all the toilet paper away? And so the person went and put the toilet paper away, but not in the correct place? Well, I didn't know that was where you wanted, I thought you wanted it here. But you're never putting things where I tell you to put them where I want you to put them, but you don't actually tell me where to put them. Right. So we can kind of get this sense is, there's so many opportunities every single day in almost every interaction that we have with another human, for there to be a crossing of signals, a misinterpretation of what people said. And if you've listened to the live episode, this month, a few weeks ago, you'll know that what that really accounts for is the fact that we had an expectation of something. And then the reality was different. So the reality of where the person put the toilet paper versus where I expected them to put the two other people were different. And it creates frustration, a source of argument. So that's one reason that's one understanding of what arguments are. The second understanding what arguments are, and these tend to be I think the more difficult arguments for people is where there are triggers. So for example, I'm just going to go to this a start with this example from Glennon and Abby in the we can do hard things podcast, they have a lot of disagreements and arguments about food. And when they what they reveal about their past so Glennon grew up feeling like there was you don't waste food, you don't throw anything out that that's, you know, it's not, it's disrespectful to do that. She also grew up with eating disorders were having abundance of food, you know, was difficult. And so she has one perspective on food. And then Abby grew up, like one of I think, was a seven or eight kids where there was never enough and you had to kind of like grab hold of whatever you wanted for yourself, or someone else is going to take it. And so as an adult likes to live her life by always having an abundance of food. If there's four people order five pizzas, it doesn't matter. We'll throw out anything that's leftover, but we'll know that we had enough. And so even just in that description, you can kind of see like, Oh, my gosh, what must go on? The disagreements are the places where things are missing or happening, though, because there are much older stories that are coming into play. Glennon gets triggered by an abundant by throwing food out because she learned so long ago that that's just not what you do. And it violates something in her value system. Having a lot of food around also completely triggers her because of her eating disorders, that it's almost like, you know, you're gonna put a bunch of drinks in front of a recovered alcoholic, you know, right. So I mean, that's her experience, it's something so deep, that when all this food is around, it's like activating a trigger, it's like setting off the red alarm button inside her. And of course, the same is true for Abby is that, you know, since food was like, you know, you had so many other siblings, she was one of the younger ones, people were going to take and grab and get. And it was never enough, that she's just going to like hold on to things and grasp for it. And when you talk about, you know, not just having the minimum or not getting, you know, sharing things, she gets triggered, it's like a red button going off for her. And when we have bigger, more intense arguments with people, it tends to be because there's either something from our past, or something that feels like it's violating what violating a core value that we have. And that's when we get so heated that we almost can't see or hear or understand a single thing the other person says, Why aren't you getting a Why aren't you listening to me? Right? That's when we start with those we just start charted shouting our position louder with this subconscious expectation that if this person cared for me, they would be hearing me right now. They would be understanding and they would be changing what they are doing. Right. let's admit it, that's what we're aiming for. this other person is supposed to move in our direction and that would be how I know they care about me. The problem is that if both people are triggered, both people are looking for that from the other, and neither is getting it.

And it doesn't matter if this comes up with your friends in your friendship circles, if it comes up with your children, if it comes up with your spouse, as I said, it will even come up at work with coworkers. Anytime there's an argument or disagreement, we just tend to display the argument differently if it's at work, for example, than if it's at home, or maybe it's going to look a little differently with our child than with our spouse, but they're all going to come from the same place. And so what do we really what's important? How do we make this a healthy experience? Because that's really the inquiry of this podcast is, how do we do this arguing thing in a healthy way? How do we make it productive, or it actually brings us into deeper connection with the other person, rather than, you know, deteriorating the relationship in some way. And so wanted to discuss a couple strategies for that. So first, and you know, it's almost like we need to possibly repeat this for ourselves. It's just an ongoing mantra. But one of the things that happens for me when I argue with somebody or we have one of these clashes, is I always try to come back to remembering that nobody here is trying to hurt the other. Although I am feeling hurt in this moment, although I'm feeling disrespected, or disregarded or hurt in this moment, that is not the intention, this person cares about me, this child who's screaming the nasty things in me, right now cares about me, this spouse who is getting all red in the face, cares about me, this person who is turning me off and trying to ignore me, cares about me, otherwise, we wouldn't be in a relationship. Think about it, it's one of the hardest things for us to remain connected to the belief that this person cares about us and doesn't actually want to hurt or harm us when we're in the middle of an argument. So for me, I remind myself about that a lot before I'm in the argument, so that I will be able to latch on to it, it's the last thing in the world, I want to believe when I feel hurt. And yet, it's so critically important that I work on training myself, to know that and to know that this is coming from triggers, this is coming from misunderstandings, this is coming from seeing the world through different lenses, it is not coming out of an intention to hurt. Then I go to this place of like, Okay, so how do we do this in a healthy way. And, again, if

you pop over to that podcast, we can do hard things, you'll actually kind of hear about it in real time, which is great. But one of the things that happens is, you know, first in order to make this healthy first we have to notice, and I have I've trained myself to do this, I'm in an argument with somebody, they're getting upset, I'm getting upset. And then I sort of have the me that's observing me watching me say, Okay, you guys are here, let's just notice what's happening. Let's notice that this trigger thing is happening, or let's notice that this misunderstanding thing is happening this misfire. And let's just know that that's what it is. It's naming, it's labeling the thing. All right, this thing is going on, and it's happening now. Right? Then comes this moment of pausing. Because most of the time when we're upset like that, we will say things we don't mean, we will say not nice things, because we are in attack or defense mode. And that's where our brain takes us to. So we will start to say things that almost feel like we are taking our dagger and jabbing it into the heart of the other person. Because that's what we're feeling, or we're defending ourselves. And so we might be saying those things in defensive self. whatever we're doing is we want to, we want to pause because if we keep doing that, the more we allow both of the you know, both ourselves and the other person to keep going down that path of attacking and defending and attacking and defending, the more damage we're going to do. So we notice that we actually take some pauses. And sometimes in reality, what that looks like is if I'm having something where there's a disagreement with them, I'll say, you know what, I don't think it's going to be really healthy for us to keep talking about this now, why don't we both take some time to reflect on it, and then we can come back and have a conversation when we're not so upset. And the reason I do this is because there is actually something that happens in the brain is that if we're triggered or there's misfiring happening, there is a disconnect between the emotional center of the brain which is the amygdala, and the neocortex, which is the rational part of the brain, the rational part of the brain can have a productive and healthy conversation. When the amygdala the emotional center of the brain has taken over there is no chance. And when we're triggered those two which are typically in communication, like there's something that threatens between them. And they, you know, information can travel up and down. But actually they disconnected, almost like going offline. And the rational part of the mind goes offline. And trust me, yes. Even if we're sure we're absolutely right, I'm sure that we're making perfectly good sense. And then it's the other person, you just have to take my word for it. Your neocortex is off line. So given that that's the case, there is never a productive conversation, or a way pass through when both people are offline. And so that's why I pause and say, You know what, let's take a pause. This doesn't seem like it's going to get us anywhere, right? Now. Sometimes that pause is five minutes. Sometimes it's an hour, sometimes it's a day. It doesn't, you know, you'll

it kind of depends on how long does it take for both people to come back online, and how significant The issue is, and how pressing it is from a time standpoint. But if we could train ourselves to notice, to pause, separate from it, and then take some time to reflect? How do we reflect? we reflect by asking ourselves, what was happening for me, I always start with me first, because truth be told, when I'm upset, I need the attention on me. So I start with me first, what was really happening for me here? And I try to go beyond this situation here. They did this to me, right? Okay. They did this to me, it does not answer the question of what happened to me. Why am I getting so triggered here? Why am I so upset? And again, this is where, you know, I gave you the backstory on Glennon and Abby. But in their reflection period, they went back and started to realize, why does otter ordering all the pizzas upset me so much? Or, you know, why does ordering the minimum amount of food upset? You know, I had so much they have to ask themselves the question, what is making me so upset here? What is making driving me to feel so passionate or so threatened or so defensive in this moment? That is the reflection question. And it is a question. This is why it takes courage to be curious as we have to move beyond just wanting to win, or damage the other person into getting reflective and find out what is going on with us. So we ask herself that reflection question, then we do we amp it up? Because we ask ourselves a question out of compassion, right? Compassion feels like the last thing we want to do and arguing but what might be going on for this other person. And here's where this big overview perspective, concept of perspective really comes in? If I didn't believe that they wanted to hurt me, but I believe that they love me. What could be going on for them right now? Right? So if I didn't believe they were here trying to hurt me placed on God on this earth to hurt me, or place on this earth to make me feel badly or to attack me? Why else might they be experiencing and feeling the way they're feeling? Right? This is like advanced level, right? This advanced level arguing but this is where we need to get to because my sense and experience and working with couples, and working workplaces and even with people and just you know, there's a life coaching that I do is that most of us don't know how to argue in a healthy way. And don't know how to do this reflection that really enables us to advance ourselves and advance our relationships. So first, I reflect on myself, why am I feeling this way? And if I believe that this person loves me, and it's not trying to hurt me, Why might they be feeling what they're feeling or saying what they're saying? It's when we've done both people have done that level of reflection, but then we can come back and have a healthy conversation. And the conversation at this point you can see doesn't even start with the issue we were arguing about, it starts with the sharing of the reflection. What did I come to understand, because I took this moment of pause and reflection that I didn't understand before. And when we share from that place, what is typical is the both people are much more receptive. Oh, I understand your background or I understand what you're telling me. Now this helps me to understand your position. Great return the tables. Now I understand what you know a bit about your background and what was happening for you. Now I understand your position. And then there's the golden place where the two circles on the Venn diagram overlap. I'm trying to make this on the video. I'm doing a really bad job of that. But the two circles on the Venn diagram overlap, what's the place where what we both need, and what's important to both of us can be met. What's that point, that place of intersection between both of our knees both of our experiences where our needs can be met, or being met to the best way possible. It's a beautiful formula and then we can see how going through that process can only deepen our connection to the other person. it deepens our connection because we understand them better. We understand ourselves better and we understand them better. And we actually got to a place where we could come to productive solution. Unlike just sweeping it under the carpet, to me this is what kills relationships is all the things that we sweep under the carpet, I'm just gonna ignore it, I'm just gonna let it go, we sweep that one under the carpet, the mound under the carpet gets bigger. And guess what it typically just kind of like blows up like a volcano at some point. And then we're dealing with all the lava that spewing out of it, of all of the things that were never dealt with

and never moved to a productive place. So I'm a big fan, like let's argue, let's learn to argue well and healthy ways, let it be a catalyst for the deepening of relationship. And let it be part of the way we wonder our way into brilliant and beautiful relationship with others. So thank you for listening to today's podcast. And I want to just preview that at the end of this month. We have like a spectacular conversation with Amy styler who you've heard before and Reena raichur where we talk about the fact that one of the essential components of being in you know, relationship with anybody else, and the world better is to be in really great relationship with ourselves. And what does that mean? How do you get there? You know, that big question of like self love or caring for yourself? What does that actually mean? How do you do that? It is you know, one of the things that's poignant and it's funny and it's like, you know, drop the mic poignant you know, have like just great things on there. I can't say enough. And if you can watch that one on video, there are some really, really fun moments that are will be present on the video that you might not get full appreciation of in the audio but if you pop on to the YouTube channel, you will see it there. So stay tuned, we're going to revisit this love thing, a different perspective on this love thing. When we get to the end of the month and keep with us, keep wondering your way to brilliant

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