Which is more valuable to a relationship: Knowing how to fight fair or not getting into fights?
Should you learn to fight fair and use the skill to resolve conflicts or should you try to avoid conflict by tempering your emotions?
Some therapists believe that there is a special virtue in learning how to fight fair. Others recommend that you avoid fighting and arguing.
Some culture warriors have even recommended that women make the kitchen into a war zone. Others prefer to place a greater value on domestic harmony.
Unfortunately, when authoritative figures say that it is good to learn how to resolve conflicts by fighting fairly, people come away thinking that they do well to indulge in intemperate emotional excesses.
It is very bad advice. If you make a habit of trying to resolve conflict by fighting fairly you will quickly develop a reputation for being argumentative and disruptive.
It will do your marriage no good. If you practice the same bad habit in the workplace you are likely to get fired.
Business Week reports:
You know that annoying co-worker who argues with everyone about everything and tends to pick fights over the littlest issues?
Companies are increasingly trying to weed petty employees out. Colleagues who are talented but argumentative in the office can often drag down morale and impede productivity, says Ilona Jerabek, who has a Ph.D. in psychiatric genetics and runs Canadian Internet psychology testing company PsychTests.com.
“They are more inclined to get into conflict, whether it’s with a direct report, their peers, or their superiors,” says Jerabek, citing a new study of the personality traits of about 33,000 people analyzed by PsychTests.com.
“Their negative mindset and negative energy can get to people who are around them, which can be an emotional contagion in the workplace.”
For most people confrontation and argument are a way of life. They are acquired habits, often encouraged and sustained by deviant tendencies in the culture. Clearly, habits can be broken, but it is difficult to do so.
Learning the virtue of tempering your emotion, of self-discipline and self-control might just save your career and your marriage. It’s worth the effort.