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Why do the people we love most sometimes make us so angry - and since anger can destroy a great relationship...is there anything we can do to limit its effects?

Ask yourself: Do you need to be right and win the argument, or are you willing to actually work towards a solution that’s going to satisfy both of you?

Love and anger sometimes seem like two flip sides of a coin, and unfortunately, when angry, we tend to be pretty good at hurting those we know the best. But though you'll never eliminate conflict and anger, if you're willing together work for a solution with civility, you can limit the damage and often find an outcome that's acceptable to all.

Are you in an anger-affected relationship?

If so, break out of the usual downward-spiral habits and try something new by using a structured system for resolving interpersonal conflict.

  • Called the CUDSAIR method, the system encourages civility and helps you to avoid slipping beyond the issue at hand or falling into name-calling and cheap shots as it also helps you to find a solution that's going to work for everyone.

Why not give it a try?

The CUDSAIR Method

The CUDSAIR method provides a structure for disagreements that helps limit personal attacks and conflict escalation and which keeps the focus of attention on understanding the problem and working together to find a solution that’s acceptable to all.

CUDSAIR stands for:

  1. Confront
  2. Understand
  3. Define
  4. Search
  5. Agree
  6. Implement
  7. Review

C - Confront the Problem

In this first step you identify the problem and decide to confront it together. By doing so both parties shift attention from confronting each other - which rarely helps - to confronting a potentially solvable problem.

"We have a problem with _______. Instead of getting angry and fighting about this like we usually do, do you want to try to solve this problem together?"

U - Understand Your Partner's Position

The louder we yell and shout the less we actually hear and understand.

The odds are good that neither person is 100% right (which means you're probably at least partly to blame for the problem) so if you want to find a way to reconciliation it's important to make a real effort to understand your partner's position and feelings.

Try not to interrupt each other as you explain your positions; at this stage you don't need to agree or comment or try to debate a position...you are just trying to understand.

D - Define the Problem

Now that you've decided to tackle the problem and now that you've come to some understanding of your partner's point of view, before you start seeking solutions, it's useful to clearly define the exact nature of the problem.

“So we both agree – the main issue of contention between us is _____________________.”

S - Search for Solutions (Brainstorm)

Grab a scrap piece of paper and sit down together to brainstorm as many possible solutions as you can. Since this is just the brainstorming phase you don’t have to worry about the practicality of any suggestion, just try to generate as many options as you can.

In this step, as in all the steps, it’s important to avoid inflammatory statements and suggestions that only serve to escalate the tension.

A - Agree on a Solution

Look back over your brainstormed solution notes and decide together on a solution that’s acceptable to both parties.

In most cases, both people will need to make some concessions, so it’s important to go into the agreement step ready to compromise for the greater good. The idea is that though no one is going to get exactly what they want, that a compromised and imperfect solution is still far better than continuing hostility and discord.

I - Implement the Solution

Take action and make any changes necessary to support and implement the solution you’ve both agreed on.

R - Review as Necessary

Sit down together occasionally, or as necessary, to review the solution’s effectiveness and to make changes as necessary.1

You Can Learn Healthier Relationship Skills

It takes effort to break free from negative habits like arguing, passive aggression or bickering, but with determination you can learn healthier ways of conflict resolution.

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Page last updated Oct 29, 2012

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