There are lots of destructive things that people do in arguments that tend to make conflict worse rather than help resolve it. Try to avoid any of the following:

  • Stonewalling. This is a total withdrawal and refusal to discuss the issue. It usually leaves the conversation with nowhere to go. Stonewalling is often used by people who don’t like conflict and so try to avoid it. It’s very common in relationships for one partner to habitually stonewall while the other gets frustrated trying to get answers.
  • Criticism. Commenting negatively, over and above the current problem. ‘You’re always so forgetful.’ This can cause the other person to feel attacked and threatened. This behaviour often creates a very defensive response, and so can be the trigger for a real shouting match.
  • Contempt. For example, sneering, belligerence or sarcasm. ‘You think you’re so clever.’ This is very unproductive and can cause the other person to feel humiliated and belittled.
  • Defensiveness. Aggressively defending and justifying self to the other person. ‘You haven’t got a clue just how much I have to remember every day.’ The other person is likely to feel attacked by this and the argument is likely to escalate.