As you see in this hilarious sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, disagreements get worse when people can’t even agree on what they are arguing about.
In fact, many arguments start when one person does not feel heard and/or understood by the other person such as this interview-turned-contentious-conversation between fighter Floyd Mayweather and interviewer Brian Kenny.
Then we talk at cross-purposes or on different topics, attempting to get the other person to talk about what’s really important – to us.
Hint: Especially when things turned heated with someone first prove to that person that you heard what he said.
Why is that helpful? Because problems seldom exist at the level at which they are expressed.
By probing, you show interest in their views. You increase the chances that he will be open to hearing your response.
But not always.
Two other things struck me again from watching the python sketches - is the high level of civility – even during an argument and the colorful yet not profane use of language.
BTW, to celebrate Conflict Resolution Day on October 15th why not start thinking of a critic or adversary. What is the main thing you genuinely respect about that person on who is difficult for you? Send that individual a postcard, writing vividly and specifically about that quality. Who knows? you might get on a roll and write four such postcards.