Arguing to Come to an Understanding


In last week’s post, I continued my discussion regarding a powerful methodology for consciously building mutually empowering relationships.

Today’s post continues that discussion and provides a model for respectful, non-injurious, productive, transformational arguing.

I will share a model for arguing that allows everyone involved to “win” while at the same time transforming a “disagreement” into an opportunity that actually strengthens your precious relationship.


The challenge:

Disagreements and differences of opinion are just a part of life.

How we handle disagreements need not be left up to chance.

As I like to say:

Having a plan puts the mind at ease so that the heart can shine.

In times of disagreement, we actually need to move closer together.

We all intuitively know this be true.

The question is: how?

Arguing to come to an understanding

The diagram below depicts the dynamics of a typical “disagreement”.

If we approach a discussion with the intention to “win” then the other party or person must, by definition, “loose and be wrong”.

The sides of the box depict the “walls” that we all can easily tend to put up in situations that we choose to label as adversarial.

The ‘box’ has a top on it because when we choose to see a discussion as adversarial, we are also choosing to close ourselves off to other viable possibilities.

The ‘box’ has a ‘bottom’ on it, because when we choose to see a discussion as adversarial, we unintentionally elicit our ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response  greatly limiting our access to our deepest, most powerful inner resources.

Finally, when we choose to see a discussion as adversarial we inadvertently trigger our survival-based instincts and our bodies physiologically prepare to ‘fight, flight or freeze.’.

Once our ‘fight, flight  or freeze’ response has been triggered our vision narrows, our capacities for creative thinking are greatly limited and the chemicals surging through our veins make it  impossible to relax and be fully present in any sort of productive way.


What I am about to share forms the basis of the win, win, win scenario that preserves everyone’s sense of self-worth while strengthening rather than tearing apart your precious relationship.

In this scenario, you win, your partner wins, and your precious relationship wins.  YEA!!!!!!!

So let’s see what happens to the dynamics of our dreaded disagreement when we add a perspective that at least allows the possibility for establishing some common ground.

Before you dive into the “steps” remember it takes two to do the dance of love.  Both parties have to first decide that they really want to dance.

Step one:

Ask yourselves do you want to be right or do you want to be in relationship?

Please pause for a minute and really let this question settle into your consciousness.

Step two:

Ask yourselves:  Can you both give yourselves permission to believe that the other person’s opinions and views have validity and meaning?

Step three:

Give yourselves permission to believe that in some small way you may be wrong.

Put another way:

Can you both give yourselves permission to believe that your solution, opinion, etc. is not perfect and could possibly be modified in some way?

One reason why this model is so effective is that it can create an opportuinty to build a deeper level of trust between you and your partner. transforming a “disagreement” in a opportunity to build trust.

When both people highly value their relationship and can become fully present with just how important their relationship is, the need to be right, at any cost, dissolves in the fires of love and the process of inclusion and mutual empowerment can be facilitated.

The diagram below depicts this model:

The circle in the center is intended to imply inclusion and is the beginning of mutually empowering communication.

One reason why this model is so effective is that it can create an opportunity to build a deeper level of trust between you and your partner.

It also provides an opportunity for both partners to practice expressing themselves and standing in their truth.

Step four: (only for people who truly and deeply love each other)

Face each other.

Look into each other’s eyes.

Reaffirm your love for one another.

Say together:

“It’s our relationship that matters most, I LOVE YOU”.

Step four:  (for folks in new relationships)

The foundation of love is mutual respect.

Face each other.

Look into each other’s eyes.

Reaffirm that the relationship is very important to you. And renew your commitment to work on it.

Gandhi put it succinctly:

“Respect is the minimum expression of love”.

When two people involved in a disagreement truly respect each other, then, and only then, is it possible to argue to come to an understanding.

It is now possible to find common ground… to make progress toward resolution.  This is the birthplace of hope and a positive future.

When we can become and stay fully present with our love for one another, and we both consciously choose to make the health of our relationship the top priority, we can put our differences aside and find a way to stay in the land of common ground and mutual empowerment.

Always remember it’s the relationship that matters. 

When people stop communicating because they feel that they are not being heard, feel belittled, and made to be wrong, alienation tends to set in and the relationship may be irreparably damaged.

Some things you do and say can never really be “taken back”.

I cannot tell you how many couples I have seen split up because they never learned how to effectively and compassionately deal with simple differences of opinion, let alone, conflict.  

Don’t let this be YOU!

By leaving “open” the possibility that from some perspective you might be wrong, you open the door for finding true common ground, resolution, and peace.

You are choosing to leave the door of possibility open.

Some other important points to bear in mind

It is in love that we find the courage to stand in humility, which is the basis of true understanding. 

When folks can surrender their ego to their hearts and experience the connection that exists between them there is no problem that can’t be compassionately resolved.

How this process is different from “compromise”.

Compromise is mostly an intellectual process in which parties embroiled in conflict each give up something to get something.

While compromise can be an effective tool of negotiation (when I observe the process of “compromise” in our government I often wonder how effective it truly is, LOL)- it usually leaves one or both parties feeling deflated and feeling disempowered.

What I am proposing is very different.

I am proposing that when utilizing the proposed method that both people openly acknowledge their feelings, desires, needs, concerns, and especially their fears.

The goal of this process is that both people consciously work together to find a solution that is mutually empowering and mutually fulfilling.

This is not a “tit for tat process”.

Final steps:

  • Celebrate your efforts to resolve the matter, especially if you mutually decide to continue your discussion later.
  • Make an appointment to check in with each other!!!
  • Leave the door open for further discussion.
  • Often, complete resolution and closure take time and really should be seen as a process and not an event. You don’t have to get it completely right on your first go, you just have to make progress!
  • For the men who read this post:

Please try and remember that leaving your partner in freedom to express them selves is not tacit agreement or “giving in”.

Be giving them that same freedom that you also want, you are opening the door to a truly equal, mutually empowering relationship that I promise you is far more fulfilling than always getting your way.

NO, I am not taking sides.

I am a man and I have fallen into this trap more times than I would like to admit.

Some final thoughts:

As I have shared in recent posts, one very effective way to conceptualize the complicated dance of interpersonal relationship is to view the relationship as a separate, living entity.

Add to this idea, the idea that all living entities require support and nurturing to live, grow, and, especially- to thrive.

The diagram below depicts this model:

When the quality of the relationship is the top priority of both people in the relationship, then both parties do what it takes to keep the relationship healthy.

For me, “true love”, means that I will be true to the love in my heart for my beloved wife while fully honoring my own needs, desires, goals and so on.

I sincerely hope that you found this post inspiring and useful.

I encourage you to live fully into the beautiful human being that you are and to take the steps that your heart calls you to take.

Live, Connect, Love and Prosper

See YOU next week!

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Comment by williamtrimpi
July 30, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

right on Ron–thank you for this–Rainbows-Bill

Comment by stephen light
August 4, 2013 @ 8:20 am

Hi Ron

I love the model. If we are able to find 2% truth in what others are saying it allows us to shift perspective. I always believe we should align on what we agree (common Interest) versus divide on what we disagree on (Different positions).

Thanks again

Love & Courage
Stephen Light

Comment by williamtrimpi
August 4, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

Thank you Ron for the medicine–Rainbows-Bill and Jennifer

Comment by Keith
February 23, 2014 @ 7:09 am

Hi Ron; Thanks for all the positive energy. I would love to hear examples and real life stories of two people working things through. It would inspire me to think back to some of mine, and maybe send them to you to share…. Keith

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