Friend Wars: 5 Tips for Fighting Fair

  • 6
  • 2
  • 5
  • 1
  • 1

CC0 Public Domain

Ideally, every friendship should be kind, pleasant, and problem free. Ideally, a full-time staff should draw us a hot bath and serve us Ben & Jerry’s in fancy silver goblets too. But unfortunately, we live in a less than perfect world (where most of us have to, sigh, drive to the store to get our ice cream). Along with our blemished planet, our friends aren’t perfect and neither are we.  Because of this, some imperfect moments are bound to surface in our relationship.

When problems arise in our friendships–and it’s a when, not an if, there’s no need to panic.  An occasional challenge is normal and isn’t necessarily a disqualifier for a healthy friendship. If we learn to fight “fair,” our arguments won’t be the end of the world or the end of our connection. They might even help grow us into better people and, in fact, deepen our friendship.

1. Refrain from Personal Attacks.

Experts often advise against “ad hominem attacks,” but a lot of people don’t even use that term–ad hominem–let alone know how it applies to their friendships. It turns out this term is just a fancy way for saying don’t attack the other person on a personal level. It’s okay to use logic, reason, facts, or “I feel” statements to disagree with someone’s ideas or offer a different point of view. It’s not okay to attack their character, appearance, or personality rather than just pushing back on their thoughts and ideas.

Also, fair warning: Attacking them (rather than their opinions) will most likely escalate the argument, instead of resolving it.

2.Don’t Bring Up the Past.

We’ve all made mistakes and done things we aren’t proud of. There’s not much worse, socially speaking, than having someone bring up those prior failures and rub our faces in them. Even though we hate it when someone re-hashes our past, though, we still may be tempted to reference their track history. After all, if we’re trying to make a point or win an argument, we may feel like it helps to make them look bad. But cashing in on an underhanded move designed to shame the other person actually only makes us look bad. And  it derais the discussion on the actual topic at hand.

If you choose to stay friends, you need to choose to forgive and move on from the past.

3. No Name-Calling

Like personal attacks, name-calling usually has nothing to do with the point at hand. We generally drop careless names and labels when we’re spewing out of anger. They could include obviously hurtful terms like “loser” or more general, veiled accusations like “immature” and “irresponsible”–adjectives which may better describe a single action, rather than someone’s total history. Calling people names or dropping accusatory words doesn’t bring the fight to an end either of course. Instead, we sometimes resort to these words because we need to vent and makes us feel better to get our anger out. The terrible thing, too, is while we are enjoying the quick release of steam, we might be making hurtful, scarring comments we don’t even actually mean.

4. Don’t Interrupt.

Have you ever been neck-deep in an argument only to realize the other person isn’t even listening? Maybe their eyes are wandering, they’re checking their phone, or they suddenly blurt out, “Huh?” indicating they’ve missed everything we just said.  When this happens, it can quickly spiral into bad feelings. After all, when someone doesn’t listen, that also means they don’t understand our point of view, and maybe don’t quite “get” us in general. This sends negative ripples through a friendship because at our core, most of us want to feel understood and accepted by those closest to us.  So when it’s our turn to listen, we can’t create the impression that what we have to say is more important than what they have to say by not letting them finish or by constantly interrupting. Chances are we would find such a move disrespectful and inconsiderate if the situation were reversed.

5. Never Make Threats.

No matter how angry we become, it’s important to keep in mind that we can’t take back what we say. Similar to the “be careful what you wish for” adage, don’t tell your friend or loved one “we’re not going to be friends anymore” or “I can’t keep doing this” in the heat of the moment. When things settle down, you may just get what you wish for.

These kinds of threats violate the trust between us because they act as if the friendship has little or no value and can be disposed of immediately.

There are 3 comments

Add yours
  1. JuliaGirl90

    OMG, I hate when people make threats. It’s so passive-aggressive. No. Just no. Don’t act like a 5th grade mean girl. 😉

  2. KeithConnor

    I think these tips apply to every sector in our lives. While most of us grasp professionalism and wouldn’t call our boss a name (to his or her face), we might give the worst of ourselves and be less tolerant toward our spouse or kids. The don’t bring up the past one is where I err sometimes because it seems rational to show how someone’s pattern or history of behavior impacts the situation at hand. I don’t think it’s always wrong to try to point that out, but it’s probably a conversation you can only have with those closest to you and only when they welcome it.

  3. Jan T.

    I read it and I agree with it but then when I am in the middle of a heated argument, I do these things anyways. 🙁

Post a new comment