02 March, 2012

And In This Corner... Part III

Family on Friday!!!

Last week we continued discussing resolving confrontation within the family by underlining the importance of not escalating a bad situation by losing control of your anger.

Let's get the cliches out of the way:  You can't fight fire with fire.  You don't want to pour gasoline on the fire.  You shouldn't fan the flames.  You wouldn't want to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire.  And so on and so forth.

How about this?  Don't piss on the fire that's cooking your food.

When a member of your family is obviously upset (even lashing out at you) and you have already acknowledged their feelings, apologized for you part in their pain, and reminded them that your position comes from your love for them, the next big step is to carefully consider what they want.

S/he may have a point.  You could very well be wrong.  (And just because you're wrong, doesn't mean they're right.)  As long as you haven't brought down the thunder with ultimatums, decrees, and gavel smacks, you still have a chance at incorporating what your family member wants without looking like a flopping fool.

A few suggestions for finding out their true wishes:  Ask them to calmly explain why they feel their position is superior.  Ask them if something else had upset them.  Ask them for their input to a compromise.

It's important to note that if you are going compromise or even agree that your family member's idea is better, that you only do so after they have calmed down.  This minimizes the chance of justifying their angry outbursts.

There is still a good chance that they are way off base and will have to obey your law to the letter.  If you checked your anger, allowed them to express themselves, and at least made a demonstration of considering that eating ice cream in bed might be an acceptable alternative to putting away their things, you've at least simmered the confrontation down significantly.

Some confrontations reach an impasse.  Can you act angry without being angry, even if you are angry?  We'll see next week.

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