Keys to Manage Family Arguments

Do you live in a family nucleus where arguments predominate? If so, do you know how to manage these family arguments in order to create an ideal environment?
Keys to Manage Family Arguments

Last update: 29 June, 2021

Shouting, bad manners, long faces, the occasional door slamming… these are some examples that appear during family arguments. As we all know, experiencing conflicting situations with loved ones often becomes stressful for each of its members. So, are there keys to regulate family arguments? How can you manage family arguments? Below, we’ll answer these questions.

With regard to the first question, we’ve got great news: yes, there are keys to regulate family arguments. As for the second, in the following article, we’ll offer some keys to manage family arguments that appear in different family nuclei.

“Many people shout and argue until the other person shuts up. They think they’ve convinced him. And they’re always wrong.”

-Noel Clarasó-

Family arguments: do we fight or do we negotiate?

There are several ways in which we can manage family discussions. The way we choose will determine the immediate future of the family members. Let’s take an example of a family situation: one of the children drops a dish and breaks it. The parents can choose to scold him or laugh. The first action would produce crying on the part of the child, the second, on the other hand, would provoke the same laughter as in the parents.

A mother and her teenage son having an argument.

As we can see in the previous example, the consequences of the same behavior can be totally different and turn the situation around; everything will depend on the action we choose and on the initial intention of the original action.

Thus, when it comes to managing family discussions, we can choose to continue fighting, which would lead to being in a continuous stressful family nucleu. Or we can choose to negotiate and maintain assertive communication in which all family members can give their opinion and share their points of view until reaching a mutual agreement.

Family arguments: communication under stress

The American psychotherapist Virginia Satir interviewed thousands of families and from her work, extracted interesting theories about how families communicate. She studied how parents addressed their children and how they raised them. Following her research, she describes four modes of communication under stress during family discussions and defines them according to their verbal and nonverbal communication.

Modes of communication:

  • The accuser. This member looks for an outside culprit in order to demonstrate their strength. Corporally, they’re invasive and have the objective of defending their territory and making themselves visible as the one in charge. Their voice is tense and their vocabulary’s direct. He doesn’t go into explanations, they simply point out the mistake, the culprit, and give their sentence. Inwardly, they’re vulnerable and lonely.
  • The conciliator. Gives in to others in order to avoid conflict. Corporally, they’re hunched over, with the objective of showing their recognition to others. They express themselves in a pleasant and conciliatory tone of voice. At the same time, they use clear and simple vocabulary to make it clear that they’re in agreement. Inwardly, they feel worthless and seek their self-esteem in the approval of others.
  • The calculator. Calculates the threat, strength, weaknesses, and opportunities, and decides what to do based on the final outcome. They intellectualize  danger and strips it of emotion. Corporally, they appear cold and in control of the situation. They express themselves in an academic manner, with complex sentences based on data and verifiable facts. Inwardly, they feel helpless and exposed.
A couple arguing in bed.

  • The distractor. This individual ignores danger to avoid its existence. Corporally, they’re dynamic and agile, quick in their movements and in their way of speaking. It’s their way of avoiding the present threat. They tend to have a skittish discourse in relation to the present, with the objective of maintaining attention on novelty in the face of insecurity. Inwardly, they feel they have no place in the system.

“The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.”

-George Santayana-

How to manage family arguments

To conclude, ideal communication is one that’s flexible and that allows members to go through the four modes of communication, as required by the present situation. All of us have the capacity to be accusatory, conciliatory, calculating, and distracting. Adaptation to the family system makes us adopt the ideal attitude to maintain balance and guarantee subsistence, although this technique stops working as soon as our family nucleus disappears.

Virginia Satir states that one of the bases of communication is in the binomial of listening and responding, which includes active listening and assertiveness, mindfulness, and empathy, the here and now.

Thus, by attending to the present, we increase the probability of distinguishing between real and imagined danger. This way, in a stable environment, we can increase our responses to reactions. These are trainable skills, so what are you waiting for to put them into practice?

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  • Goméz Sanchez, N. Y. (2017). Formación y acompañamiento en la implementación de estrategias efectivas para el restablecimiento de la autoridad y acuerdos en normas dentro del hogar, a los cincos grupos familiares habitantes del barrio las floridas del municipio de Uribia La Guajira.