Ask Dr. Joy: Friendly fighting

By WEEK Producer

February 6, 2013 Updated Feb 6, 2013 at 10:58 PM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- February is the month of love, so we're devoting each week to finding some enhancements for relationships in our life.

In tonight's Ask Dr Joy, we will focus on some healthy methods for creating health discussions and techniques for friendly fighting with any relationship in our life.

Many people believe that fighting is destructive; shouldn't relationships by conflict and fight free? There is a difference between destructive fighting that involves criticism, yelling, hitting, accusations. The opposite is healthy fighting.

It is important to realize that you can't always agree all of the time. Couples need to be able to negotiate and find a solution and balance with differences.

There must be room for healthy discussion without blame or attacking. Couples need to find a way to express opinions & intense feelings without fear of being judged or being emotionally or physically harmed.

What are some tips for creating healthy negotiations over differences?

* See conflict as a means of growth. Conflict is normal and healthy and it is a way to learn about the other person and seeing things through their eyes.
* Go after the issue, not the person. Friendly fighting sticks with the issue and neither party resorts to name calling, attacking or hurting the other person with your words.
* Listen with respect. Hear the other person out and focus on what they are saying vs. how you want to respond. Reflect their thoughts to be sure that you understand what they are saying.
* Talk softly. Speaking in a lower tone brings calm to a conversation. It is a monitor for peaceful discussion vs. attacking with noise and power.
* Be curious vs. aggressive. The goal of healthy negotiation is to really try to understand the other person vs. the goal of winning. Relationships are not about winning, they are about finding a solution that is workable and joyful.
* Look for points of agreement. If you turn your attention to the "good points" that the other person is making, you will find that it changes the flow of the conversation. The other person feels heard and a solution comes quicker when you find points of agreement.
* Look for concessions, options and solutions. We said that relationships are about negotiations and compromises. Invite collaboration, alternatives, and other viewpoints and look for a way that you can agree to find a workable solution.

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