How To Have A Successful Argument

Anatol Rapoport developed several “rules” for people who want to co-exist as amicably as possible. Below is a great example of where his philosophical insights compliment couples therapy well:

When engaging in conflict try following these rules:

Rule 1. You should first attempt to re-express your partner’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your partner says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”

Rule 2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

Rule 3. You should mention anything you have learned from your partner.

Rule 4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

It transforms the relationship into a more receptive environment for discussion, which in turn helps advance each partners understanding.1

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