Before conflict resolution comes conflict. Choosing an adversarial position is second nature, even for those who prefer not to argue. Some are adversarial about everything. Adversaries use three dominant techniques: Argument, authority and aggression.
Merriam Webster says adversarial means: of, relating to or characteristic of an adversary or adversary procedures. An adversary is one who contends with, opposes or resists: an enemy.
Who is the enemy?
We do not want Mate to see us as the enemy, but often that is precisely the super hero cape we put on in the morning to the sound of Mate’s melodious voice. What are the battle lines?
- Placement of objects
- Insert any topic where you may have a varying opinion.
Sounds like a civil war. It can be.
Being on the other end of the spectrum from Mate on a subject is not cause for an immediate dissolution of the marriage. In fact, in that difference you come to appreciate both Mate’s strength and your own. But just as there is a difference between authoritative and authoritarian, there needs to be a difference between adversarial and adversary.
Not All the Same
When you and Mate begin discussing the sound of the band you thought hung the moon in high school, you discover Mate hated that band back then. Before you feel as though you are no longer compatible, stop and weigh the choices before you strap on your tights and boots.
- Is this so fundamental a difference I am willing to risk our relationship?
- Is it possible I am not remembering well?
- Could Mate be right?
Before you start the argument, employ the two ears, one mouth concept. Listen to Mate’s side of the record. Then, step away from your foxhole. Otherwise, what was meant to be a nostalgic moment will flare into an adversarial brawl.
As the discussion begins, you are close to one another. You both remember the band. You both think you remember (music, musicians, why you love/hate it). Your first instinct is to tell your side of the story…
- The first cassette I played in my first car.
- The only drummer in human history to go through 21,846 pairs of sticks in one tour.
- In the Top 100 for 86 weeks in a row.
Mate is across the couch, but has the same ammunition…
- My BFF played the album end to end until the tape warped.
- The drummer could not keep time, and was too wasted to hit the drum head.
- That song played twice an hour for six solid weeks.
After you both say your peace, stop.
Holster those aggressive weapons. Listen to the album. See if it is as you both remembered. If it is, and you still love it and Mate still hates it. Agree to play it in your car on the way to work…away from Mate.
But I am Right….,
You are being adversarial. In fact, whether or not the music is great or terrible is an opinion. We all know opinions are like bellybuttons. Disagreeing should not denigrate the other’s character. Seeing the flip side broadens your horizons.
If you are adversarial for the fun-spirited banter which ends with Chablis, tossed salad and grilled salmon steaks, carry on by all means. Being on the flip side can be a mind-opening exchange.
If you are being adversarial merely to aggressively assert your authority (be right), you are indeed an adversary…the enemy.
What shade is your cape? Are you adversarial? Is it fun or fight? Name your favorite adversarial position opposite Mate…and tell why it is so fun.
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(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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