How to Choose Your Battles and Fight for What Actually Matters

Appropos of our post last week about working in showbiz being a fight to the death:


by Adam Dachis

Any moment in life can turn into a heated argument, but most shouldn’t. Conversely, you may not have the energy or confidence to stand up for yourself when it matters. Whether you fight too much or too little, you have a problem choosing your battles. Here’s how to choose your battles and get what you want when it actually matters.

I was raised by a devil’s advocate father and a mother who likes to stand up for the little guy, so I’m naturally inclined to take the opposite side of most points…whether I agree with them or not. While it’s good to see things from other perspectives, it’s horrible to argue them all. You can forego stress for yourself and others by approaching conflict both at the right times and more effectively. While I’ve learned a few things from my experience of changing my ways as a conflict-seeking individual, I’m no expert. I spoke with relationship and family therapist Roger S. Gil to find the best approaches to better conflict. In this post we’ll discuss how it’s done.

Learn Where Your Line of Conflict Should Lie

We all feel anger, but whether or not we act on it depends on a number of factors. Among them, confidence and forethought play a large role. Sometimes our anger gets the best of us, and we argue without thinking it through. Other times, we don’t feel confident enough to argue effectively when we should. To start solving this problem, you need to find where you draw the line between letting something go and engaging in conflict.

Finding your “line” means considering how others will react to your choices and how you feel about those results. For example, if you avoid most battles and you’re perfectly happy with that, your line may be fine just where it is. If you fight too many battles and upset a lot of people in the process, however, you probably need a behavioral shift. Roger suggests keeping track and analyzing what happened to figure out what’s problematic and what isn’t:

I have often had clients use journals or log sheets as ways of doing a “post-game analysis” of days where battles (or potential battles) occurred. Each entry should say what happened, how they did/didn’t deal with the situation, the outcome of how they dealt with it, and whether or not they liked the outcome. More often than not, similarities emerge across the various sections of each entry after about seven to 10 of them (e.g. they may notice that they tend to pick battles more often with family members instead of colleagues). There are usually patterns among the type of situations we ignore/confront, the people that push our buttons, and how we chose to deal with the situations. Desired changes to our style of choosing battles can then be identified after we have our behavioral baseline.

When figuring out where you need to adjust, look for patterns. When you start to see yours emerge, you’ll find it much easier to make the necessary behavioral changes and feel better about the battles you pick.

What You Need to Consider When Choosing Your Battles

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