What is one thing you can do to fight less? When you start to fight with your partner (friend, neighbor, brother, sister, mother, father, boss, coworker), you’ve already decided that they are wrong. If they are not wrong, why are you even bothering to get angry? Are you curious about this?
Being curious is one thing you can do that will make you fight less. Ask how you know they are wrong. How do you KNOW?
You may remember those fights you had as a kid. “Because” is the answer you gave, or that others gave you, when you just wanted to be right. And we all want to be right. Sometimes you want it so bad that you don’t dare to slow down and check it out, just in case you are wrong after all.
Check Your Work
Remember math class? “Check your work!” Maybe you hated math and maybe you loved it. But all of us hate slowing down to check work when we are caught in the thrill of anger. Anger is powerful. Sometimes it stinks to put that power on hold to explore if your anger is justified or not.
So how can being curious help you to fight less? Ask this question: “how do I know?” Be honest with what comes up – or doesn’t. Do you really know why you are angry? Do you really know that the other person is wrong?
In order to do this well, you need to be able to tell the difference between knowing you are right and feeling you are right. When you’re right, for sure, you have both. When you just feel it but don’t know it, there’s more work to do.
You might be reminded of the U.S. Constitution, and the principle of being “innocent until proven guilty.” Until proven guilty. Proof is about evidence. And evidence takes time to gather. It takes work. Sometimes anger has to wait, which is hard. Because anger never wants to wait.
Being curious can be a powerful antidote to anger, just as anger can be a powerful antidote to wisdom.