The Brief Guide to 

Responsible Communication in Arguments  


The crux of the matter is respect: self respect and respect for others. While deep down we may feel respect and goodwill, we sometimes lack the skills and language to express it. We need those emotional and language skills to protect our relationships and ourselves. We need to study the art of healthy responsible communication. Here is a start, complete with references. 


Wait until you are calm to discuss problems.

          Rehearse what you need to say.

( Be clear about your needs and requests. ) 

          Try to set aside judgment.

          Beware the Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, Stonewalling 

          Make “  I statements”  to express complaints, concerns, observations or feelings.  

          Avoid sweeping generalizations or character assaults ( e.g. "You are a slob” ). 

          Don’t interrupt. 

          Listen actively (Active means to verbally confirm what you have heard.)

The more you listen the more you will be listened to. 

          Don’t go on forever. ( Keep to 2-3 statements.)

          Avoid exaggeration and overgeneralization.

          Keep the argument on one subject. 

          Own whatever you did unskillfully.

          Express empathy wherever possible.

          Express your needs and requests with respect. 

          Stay calm. 

          Pause between statements.

          Recognize when you are no longer calm. 

          Take a break to achieve calm:

30 seconds to overnight with commitment to problem solve afterwards.

          Step back and look at the big picture and what’s important.

          Agree to disagree if necessary.

          Reconnect through touch if possible.