251 – How to Handle Contentious Contenders

When dealing with someone who only wants a fight, the most important thing for you to do is survive and finish the conversation with as little fallout as possible. Always keep in mind: Whatever you speak to in a person is what you get more of.

If you speak to someone’s brokenness and wrath, you’ll get more. If you speak to someone’s hope and capability, you’ll get more of that also. Rebuking a character flaw will make the flaw grow. It doesn’t matter if you speak well of it or not, whatever you give attention to will grow.

Conflict is not the time to start parenting a child, even a childish adult, especially if you are the adult arguing with your child. When the other person doesn’t want to listen, just state your decision and end the conversation quickly; never state your reasons in a conflict.

People who want to fight want to do so because they are childish. Children must be “managed”. You can’t “manage” a child if you are one yourself. Conflicts with childish folk force us to grow up; it’s better to grow up before the conflict.

Recognize “stonewalling” and never do it. Shutting down a question, refusing to address a topic, rejecting any and all requests that you acknowledge a “point well made” from the other person—these are all stone walls. So is saying, “I just don’t want to argue. Can we just get along and stop now or at least talk about it later?” That comment is sure to make the conflict go nuclear. Always keep a door open to some level of conversation on every topic and point.

Sit like you want to listen, but stay relaxed with your weight shifted back so it doesn’t feel like you’re ready to pounce. That will tell everyone, including yourself, that relaxing is alright. Only shut down a topic for the remainder of the conversation if a person starts repeating what was already said or if a person crosses a line of “what’s acceptable”—and that line must be extremely hard to reach. One uncrossable line is demanding that others accept an opinion. Keep almost all else wide open for discussion.