How to Fight Like a Grown-Up

Updated on July 10, 2017
Jocelyn Figueroa profile image

Jocelyn is a published indie-author, essayist, and poet from NYC. She has a background in research writing, blogging, and creative writing.

Jiu Jitsu for Beginners

Nope, it's not what you're thinking - this is not a martial arts crash course. Not to mention, if you're looking for street fights, you're definitely in the wrong section of the Internet. This article is all about handling opposition and having adult arguments, with a few tidbits thrown in about basic grown-up communication. We've all seen reddit forums and the YouTube comments section. Fun Fact: That's not how communication works in the real world.

Fight Like a Grown-Up

Let's face it, it's not easy keeping your cool when discussing what you're passionate about. It's not easy composing yourself when you're being insulted. I get that, and I struggle with this just as much as everyone else, but part of being an adult is controlling your emotions, being conscious of your behavior, and always being the bigger and better person.

What does it mean to fight like a grown up? It means being patient and kind even when you don't feel like it. Remember that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. You're more likely to be taken seriously if you're a kind person. You're more likely to get what you want if you're a patient person. Do you want others to respect you? Then don't be an asshole. Regardless of your motives, pure or not, unless you're a powerful figure in this person's life, the best way to get your way is by playing nice.

Grow Some Armor

Thick skin! Get it here!

Remember this: Hurt people hurt people. Chances are, this person is being a prick because they're going through some tough shit in their life, or they're just a bad, mean person. Either way, you're not a therapist. And, regardless of whether or not you feel their behavior is their fault or not, you still don't deserve it.

"Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured." -- Mark Twain

Warning Signs

Is this conversation literally going in circles? Is there an exchange of point-of-view and information? Exchanging insults doesn't count. Are they reasonable? Is their perception of the world so out-there, so odd, and skewed that you're basically wasting your time? Do they scream at waitresses? Are they drunk? <-- This matters.

You Can't Get Along With Everyone

It might be hard to accept that you, or I, could possibly be disliked! With all our great personality and fabulous good looks! Realize that everyone has their own taste, their own preferences. Personalities clash and sometimes it just doesn't work. You don't like every single person you meet, right? That would be weird.

Swallow Your Pride

Knowing how and when to apologize is essential to fighting like an adult. We don't always apologize because we're wrong. In fact, sometimes we apologize when we truly believe we're right! The thing is, deep down, in your grown-up-gut, you know that there is still room for improvement. A grown up knows that in all situations, we all could have done things differently. We all could have been better somehow. Being an adult is knowing you could do better and then going and being better.

Fighting Tactics 101

Those who claim to NEVER experience conflicts with their friends or significant others are 100% full of shit. Either they're lying to your face they literally never disagree with anything. It's also possible that they're such a doormat that they refuse to have opinions. Either way, that's a disaster waiting to happen.

Now, I'm no communication expert, and honestly, I have a lot of work to do myself, but I have a basic understanding of what it means to not be an asshole.

What you shouldn't do:
Yell, call them an idiot, or anything else that constitutes as an insult.
Pull past resentments out of your top hat.
Avoid the topic, avoid how you feel, or what you think the solution should be.

What you should do:
Not engage while angry. Cool down first, then approach the problem. (Vent to a trusted friend or family member, first, if need be. Get advice on how to approach the situation while you're at it.)
State clearly, and concisely your side of the story and/or what you're upset about.
Listen intently their side of the story and learn as much as you can.
If you're going around in circles, walk away.

Apologize, Dammit!

Did you hurt someone? Then you need to apologize and try to do better next time.

In order to make a grown up apology, you first need to know what you have done wrong and actually find it in your cold heart of yours to regret what has happened. Ask yourself: What did I do? What should I have done instead?

Just because you're making an apology, doesn't mean that you're not allowed to explain yourself, however, that doesn't mean you can excuse yourself. That's the other person's job.

Now What?

Graciously accept apologies, even if you're still angry. Do not accept apologies for repeated transgressions. At the end of the day, we need to remember that people change on their own terms and in their own time - if ever. In the meantime, accept this terrible thing that this person keeps doing.

Decide whether or not they are deal-breakers before moving forward. No one is perfect. Everyone you meet will have good and bad qualities. However, everyone you meet will also have a list of standards that must be met or a line that cannot be crossed. For me, good-personhood is a dealbreaker. I value being a good person, and it is something I want for myself, therefore, I want the internal compass of those I call my friends to be at least mostly in line with mine.

If you cannot accept an apology, be honest. Let them know in a calm and clear way that you cannot or will not move forward from this.

You can say something like, "I understand that you're sorry and I appreciate you making sure I know that. However, I really don't think we can be close anymore, and I need you to respect that. If anything changes in the future, I promise to reach out." This in no way guarantees that when you do, possibly, reach out, they'll want anything to do with you, but the point is that you made an effort.

Being an adult sucks, doesn't it? Mouthing off does feel better, but mouthing off doesn't actually help us make or maintain our relationships in the long run.

© 2017 Jocelyn Figueroa


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • stelaligizaki profile image

      Stella Aligizaki 3 months ago from Greece

      I have enjoyed the article. I will follow your advice.

    • Jocelyn Figueroa profile image

      Jocelyn Figueroa 7 months ago from New York, NY

      Thank you for the comment! I agree 100%!

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 7 months ago

      Some excellent advice!

      Each of us chooses our own friends, lovers, and spouse.

      Each of us gets to choose who we spend our time with.

      Compatibility trumps compromise!

      It's important for us to recognize the difference between a spirited debate and a fight/argument with personal attacks.

      Also remember: "Anger is the Mask that Hurt wears."

      People lash out in anger as oppose to acknowledging they're hurt because they believe it's the stronger position. However if you are aware that (anger is hurt in disguise) it's easier to cut through the muck and address their real issue.