How to Happily Stop Arguing and Start Listening

06/05/2012 02:15 pm ET | Updated Aug 05, 2012

The way that you argue is often modeled on the way that your parents argued when you were young, and this can often be a pattern that we carry with us through time. I want to teach you a method that will stop your discussions from turning into arguments, whether it is with a partner, family member or friend. The talking stick is used in many Native American traditions when a council is called. It allows all council members to present their point of view. The talking stick is passed from person to person, and only the person holding the stick is allowed to talk. Everyone else has to listen carefully to what the person with the stick is saying and cannot interrupt. Only when they are given the stick can they speak. In this way, Native American children are taught to listen from age 3 and also are taught to respect other people's perspectives, even if they don't agree with them.

If you ever talk over each other, if your discussions have a tendency to turn into arguments or if you feel you are not being heard, then the talking stick is an excellent way to communicate and can save enormous amounts of time, energy and heartache within your relationship.

Find a sacred object that can act as your talking stick. Whoever is holding the stick speaks, and the other person has to listen carefully. When the person with the stick is finished (the speaker decides when that is), she gives the stick to the other person and he person then has the opportunity to speak uninterrupted. Again when the speaker decides that he has finished, he hands the stick back to the first person. The stick goes back and forth until you have each spoken and listened in turn.

If you have problems listening, then use the talking stick method, as it enables you both to be heard. This method can save a lot of relationships.

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