Let's face it, everyone engages in an altercation or fight at some point in their life. It can be with a spouse, partner, parent, sibling, friend, or coworker. The important thing to remember is that no one wins in a fight. If people are yelling at each other, they are not listening to each other. Here are some tips to prevent a fight or ensure that once one starts, it doesn't escalate into a full-blown screaming match.

1. If you detect that someone is unhappy with you or dissatisfied with something you have done, ask them for feedback. You can say “From your expression, I feel that I have done something that bothers you. If there is something you would like to discuss, I am ready to listen.” By sharing your observation in that manner, you are acknowledging that you may have done something wrong and that you are willing to discuss it. It is better to lay your cards on the table versus not saying anything at all. Also, there are times when people are upset but don't know how to approach you. When you open the door and let them know that you are willing to talk, it facilitates honest communication.

2. When you are unhappy with someone, are you the type of person who says whatever comes to your mind or do you step back and think through the situation before you respond? If you react without thinking, you will most likely cause a fight. If you can work walk away from the situation and give it careful thought before speaking your mind, it will help you to more clearly see both sides of the situation which can, in turn, lessen the anger you are experiencing. If you are unable to walk away from the situation, then it is best to try and listen to what the other person is saying. Give them time to express how they are feeling and why they acted the way they did. This might help you to better understand their perspective. After considering their response, you can then express how their actions affected you. In listening to the other person and really trying to understand where they are coming from, it may provide sufficient information to facilitate open and honest communication.

3. Listen, listen, listen. Not only can listening to another person prevent a fight from escalating, it can also serve to calm the waters before a fight begins. If you are unsure of what someone is saying or are unclear as to why they are behaving a certain way, ask neutral questions. For example, if someone is ignoring you, say “When you turn away from me or avoid eye contact, I feel as though I am being ignored. Is there anything going on that I should be aware of?” When you ask the question in this manner, your tone is neutral. It demonstrates that your intent is to gather information, not upset the individual.

4. You can always agree to disagree. Just because you feel one way about an issue doesn't necessarily mean that the other person will share the same values or beliefs. That doesn't mean that you are right and they are wrong, or vice versa, it only means that you think differently. If you are passionate about an issue or topic, you will most likely not reverse your stand on it. If you don't want someone to pressure you into adopting their view or perspective, then don't pressure them. We may not always see eye to eye on issues, but that is what makes this country great. We have the freedom to express how we feel about issues. Even if others don't agree, at least no one can suppress how we feel. The bottom line is, we will never see eye to eye with everyone. And, as you don't want anyone to change you, avoid trying to change others. You will avoid many fights in the process.

5. Although alluded to above, the most important tip in preventing a fight is to remember that it is not what you say but how you say it. You can be honest and say almost anything to another person, but the key is to be respectful when expressing your feelings or views. For example, let's say that a friend borrowed $500 and promised to pay you back within a week, as you need the money to pay a bill. However, the friend takes 10 days to pay you back and you are now delinquent on a bill. Instead of calling your friend a string of colorful names, it is best to say “I lent you money that you promised to pay back within a week. As that didn't happen and I was delinquent on a bill, I am frustrated because I now have to pay a late fee. I would appreciate you covering the late fee. How do you feel about that?” By stating how you feel about what happened and proposing a solution, your friend will probably be relieved and cover the late fee. If he doesn't, then you probably shouldn't lend this person money again!

If you address an issue instead of avoiding it; if you think before you speak; if you listen to what the other person is saying and make every attempt to understand their perspective; if you can appreciate that there will be times when it is okay to agree to disagree, as you can't change others; and you remember that it's not important what you say but how you say it, you should be able to avoid most fights or at least prevent them from escalating into a full-blown fight.

Copyright 2010 © Sharon L. Mikrut, All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

If you want to make positive changes in your personal and/or professional life, then working with Executive & Life Coach, Sharon L. Mikrut, is the solution. Although her specialty is in partnering with nonprofit executive directors and managers to maximize their resources in a competitive environment, she is passionate about working with all individuals committed to personal and/or professional growth. Visit her website (http://www.createitcoaching.org) or Empowerment blog (http://www.createitcoaching.net), and sign up for her free monthly life coaching or nonprofit newsletter.