The People Pro® Blog

How Do You Argue?

By Barbara Bartlein

Answer the following questions as honestly as you can to evaluate your own arguing style.

1.     You wish there was more romance in your relationship.  How do you handle this?

A.   Tell her that she is about as romantic as a cleaning woman or man.

B.    Accuse her of having an affair, since her affection must be going elsewhere.

C.    Tell her that you love her and would love to receive more affection.  You give her specific examples of what you mean.

D.   You do not do anything, realizing that you cannot change her.

2.  Your partner is upset because of something you did, but you don't think you did anything wrong.  How do you handle this? 

A.   You immediately mention the many times he has done something wrong that upset you.

B.    You storm out of the room yelling: “Of course, it is always me that is wrong about everything!”

C.    You ask for more information, letting him know that you want to understand how he felt about the incident.

D.   You immediately say you are sorry, recognizing that he is probably right.

3.     When in an argument with your partner, you often:

A.   Bring up as many museum pieces as you can to win the argument.

B.    Say things that you later wish you could take back.

C.    Use “I” statements to explain your feelings and encourage your partner to do the same.

D.   Walk away or try to change the subject.

4.     You come home from a long day at work and find the kitchen a disaster with dirty dishes, pans, and leftover food.  Your partner was home all day with the kids.  How do you handle this?

A.   You immediately label him “Mr. Clean,” and let him know that he has to clean up the mess.

B.    You accuse him of being blind and unable to see the mess.

C.    You let him know how overwhelmed you feel after working all day and would appreciate it if he would clean the kitchen.

D.   You quickly change clothes and begin cleaning the kitchen.  You know that no one else will do it.

5.     Your spouse forgets to tell you that she has to work all weekend and you had made plans to watch football with some old friends.  If you had known sooner, you could have made arrangements for childcare but now it was impossible to find someone on short notice.  What do you do?

A.   You tell her that she is selfish and thinks the world revolves around her and her schedule.

B.    You say, “I'm in charge here and I'm tired of you trying to run things.  I'll stay home this weekend...but you owe me big time.”

C.    You make sure that she understands why you are so upset.  You stress that the two of you need to take time to communicate in order to coordinate plans.

D.   You let her know it is no big deal.  You are just sorry she has to work.

Scoring:  Add up your A’s, B’s, C’s, and D’s.  Which category is represented the most?  Review the key below for your most prominent style.

A.     Manipulator - Winning an argument is important for you and you will do anything to win, yet you lose with this approach.  Your spouse will feel manipulated and angry which often leads to withdrawal and/or defensiveness. 

B.    Exploder - When upset, you tend to lose control, sometimes yelling or becoming verbally abusive.  Use the extinguishing techniques to stop this behavior.  It may also be helpful to obtain professional help.

C.    Talker - You have the skills to solve problems and use techniques to reveal feelings.  Be careful that you listen as much as talk.  It may be more difficult for your spouse to open up if you do all the talking.

D.   Avoider - You give in, keep the peace, and avoid making waves.  Unfortunately you sweep more than just problems under the rug, you sweep your feelings too.  Practice speaking about your feelings using the “I” statements and work with your spouse to discuss important issues.

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