Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Beware the icy, analytical, critical stance for those of you that like that position (see article below)

All studies show and I'm sure your own experience confirms that all married couples fight over the same things -- money, the kids, sex, in-laws, work schedules, house cleaning, and the like.

So what makes some survive, but barely, while some sink, and some thrive?

Well, I watched a couple I know the other day. Something came up that evidentally hit a nerve, and it was like one of them had thrown a lighted match into a keg of powder. They went from a "1" to a "10" in a nanosecond. It was comment -- attack -- counter-attack -- retaliate.

"How can you..."
"You always ..."
"You never..."
"Yeah, right."
"See? You can't discuss anything rationally."
"Here we go again."

You're such an idiot...
You're defensive ...
You're over-reacting ...
You're hopeless.

If just reading this puts a knot in your stomach, or brings back bad old memories, you aren't alone.

And, as you innately know, and research keeps confirming, those couples who make it are those who know how to resolve conflict without tearing each other apart.

EQ COACHING CAN REALLY PUT YOU AHEAD OF THE CURVE IN LIFE because these sorts of escalations occur in the workplace too.

Learning how to manage your emotions and resolve conflict amicably can add immeasurably to success in your relationships and career, not to mention your peace of mind, happiness, and HEALTH. It's also something you want to be able to model for your children, and teach them, by example. (Stop and think for a moment -- where did you learn the patterns you have?) "How to Develop Your Child's EQ" gives you some step-by-step instructions. Check it out.
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Would you be interested in learning a two word phrase that could potentially drop the amount of time you spend feeling bad in your relationships by 70%?

It's really easy to master and you can use it for the rest of your life. It's made a massive difference to my life and my clients absolutely love it.

I first learned this technique from Taylor and McGee in their book 'THE NEW COUPLE: WHY THE OLD RULES DON'T WORK AND WHAT DOES'. Simply put, if you're having a spirited discussion with your partner that seems to be heading towards an argument, or even a blazing row, one of you just says 'time out' and you both walk away for a while to cool off. Once you've both cooled off you can get back together and talk about what was really going on.

Think you don't need this? Well, start paying attention to the arguments you get into and you're likely to notice that they make very little sense. Try to recount them, either to a friend or yourself, and you'll observe that your arguments spin off in bizarre ways and get very messy.

You may well start out with a point you're hoping to make but that often gets forgotten in the desire to be right. When most of us get into arguments with our loved one's we behave in ways that could easily be construed as less than adult - dare I say childish? That includes the icy, analytical, critical stance for those of you that like that position.

When I was learning to drive my instructor was responsible for our safety. In some way he was the adult in the car and I knew that he was in charge and to be trusted. He had a set of foot pedals on his side of the car that would allow him to cut the
power and stop the car anytime he decided I was about to do something that wasn't in our best interest. Like the time I nearly pulled out in front of a truck doing 30 mph onto a roundabout because as far as I was concerned I had right of way.
I didn't always like him for cutting the power, and sometimes I felt a bit stupid, but as a result I can now safely drive a car.

A time out works in the same kind of a way. When it comes to an argument there are really only two positions you can be in - adult or child. You just need to get slick at spotting the difference. The poor me, leave me alone child is fairly easy to
identify but there is another type you need to be aware of - the critical child.

The critical child masquerades as an all knowing adult which can be particularly confusing. So if you're busy trying to win an argument by being clever or making a great point then you're probably stuck in child even though you sound super adult.

So the deal is this, if you or your partner spot that one of you has slipped off into child you call a halt by saying 'time out'. It's a good phrase because it's totally neutral and it cuts all the power in the argument before you get yourselves into any real trouble. If your relationship is as valuable to you as my instructor's car was to him then this is a very good thing.

If you want to use this tip make sure you talk about it with your partner. Everyone likes a different level of drama in their lives - some as little as possible, some prefer Hollywood levels. When you start using time outs you'll cut the level of
drama in the relationship so it's possible that one or even both of you will feel like something is missing. It's a bit like when you gave up sugar in your tea or coffee (please tell me you did!). At first it wasn't fun but now you just couldn't go back.

Once you get an agreement in place that time outs are one of the ways you're going to protect your relationship it's important that they are respected. They build safety into a relationship but only work well if both people abide by them. It's not much fun having someone call a time out especially when you're convinced about being right. At points it can be infuriating but in the longer term it leaves you less mess to clear up. You end up having a simple discussion about whether it's worth pulling out in front of a truck even if you are in the right. In stark contrast to trying to work out how the hell you're going to work to pay for the car with so much of your body in plaster.


* When you call a time out do it in a neutral fashion. 'Time out you pig' is not neutral, neither is, 'I'm timing you out' said in your best punitive tone.

* When it comes to arguments it's worth asking yourself 'Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?' So much of what passes for spirited discussion is about point scoring which is basically silly. You're on the same team so give it up.

* Before you launch into an argument remember to H.A.L.T. Ask yourself are you hungry, angry, lonely or tired? If you are it may be smart to take yourself a little less seriously until you sort yourself out.

* Always have a time where you can come back and talk about what was really going on. This is important, otherwise it becomes a way of avoiding ever having a heavy discussion. Some conversations are painful in their nature and need to be had.
Just make sure that they are adult conversations. Sorry kids, no disrespect Intended ;-) If you read my article called 'How to Have a Decent Argument' (link below) it talks about how to have a discussion without it getting overly messy.

©By MichaelMyerscough, professional speaker and relationship success coach. Michael has lots of great tips, tools and articles on his website that you can use. Visit him at and sign up for the fr*ee relationship information.

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