1 Thing You Need To Know To Avoid Arguments


About 30 years ago I attended an on-site traffic school (yes, before you could do this on-line). Most of us had been ticketed for speeding. The instructor introduced himself and talked about boring statistics and useless facts so most of us were half asleep. Right before the break he said, “Would you like to know how to NEVER get another speeding ticket?” Clearly he got our attention. He took his time and said, “Never go faster than the posted speed limit”.

Speed Limit

He now had a room full of disappointed students. We were all looking for inside information. No one was prepared when he simply said, “Don’t speed”. We wanted something that helped us get away with speeding. We wanted a trick. We wanted an easy fix. Instead he offered us a conventional sure-fire way of not spending the next Saturday in his classroom.

Are you shaking your head right now? Do you feel like you were misled? Let me assure you that sometimes the simplest solution is actually the best solution. I have applied this lesson often over the years. There is an easy way to do things and there is a hard way to do things.

Back to the subject of the 1 thing we can do to avoid an argument. Most conversations don’t start out as arguments. Arguments tend to happen when people say things too quickly. Arguments tend to escalate when we jump the gun, listen with half an ear, or defend behavior we shouldn’t defend.

Time and space gives us perspective so we can silently decide what we want to say. Both allow us time to think more clearly as to what our end game will be. The various possibilities are:

  1. To be heard and defend our position
  2. To win the argument
  3. To hear what the other person really wants
  4. To make peace while finding an amicable solution.


We all have our own lists; take the time to think about what your list would include.

I recently found myself having conversations that could have easily ended in disaster. Different opinions and goals came into play. In a few of these conversations, the result could have been hurt feelings and strained relationships if I had not taken an adult timeout. Harsh words can be said and before you know it, an argument could ensue that might have been avoided. If you find yourself in this position, try any of the following before you lose your cool. Simply say:


  1. “Let me think about that and get back to you.”
  2. “It sounds good, but I need to give that some thought.”
  3. “You make a good point; however I need to think that over.”

And if you find that you have said words you regret, or if you were just plain wrong, it is okay to call the person back and say:

  1. “I am sorry”.
  2. “You were right”.
  3. “I made a mistake”.

sorry pup

Although these tactics might seem like common sense, they are often ignored when we are tired, angry, or frustrated. Therefore, taking the time to cool down allows the groundwork for a comfortable solution.

Think about these suggestions the next time you feel that a conversation is going in the wrong direction.

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When Should I Get Involved

I have had some very interesting discussions lately about the issue of what is our business and when we should mind our own business.

My brand new car was recently hit in a parking lot. The person did not leave a note. I mentioned this to a friend. Actually, I mentioned this to everyone who would listen as I was really pissed-off. That’s right, I am the person who would leave a note.

fender bender

One friend told me she witnessed a fender bender in a parking lot where the driver was about to leave the scene. My friend told the offender that she should leave a note. The woman told her in very colorful language what my friend could go do for the rest of the afternoon.

I then relayed this to another friend (like I said anyone who would listen). Her opinion was that it was none of my friend’s business, and she had no right to get involved.

I don’t consider myself a Dudley-Do-Right, however, I do feel that as friends, neighbors, and people who share a planet where we have laws, decent people watch out for fellow human beings. I understand there is the risk of getting yelled at or cursed out. Yet, if your house was being vandalized, wouldn’t you want a neighbor to call 911? If your child was bullied in the schoolyard, wouldn’t you want another student to help him or her?

earth copy

Yes, there is a fine line between walking behind every person who throws a gum wrapper or cigarette butt on the ground (although these are so my pet peeves), and witnessing physical violence. And I suppose the line is different for each of us.

Most people are concerned that the offender will turn on them. Many people feel that if they aren’t the ones being affected why bother. Me? I would have told the woman that she should leave a note or I would have written her license plate number down and called the police.

Why you ask? Because if that were my car being side-swiped I would want some concerned individual extending that courtesy to me.

I would love to hear your views and/or personal stories on this subject.

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When Should I Give Up On A Relationship?

It is really hard to do justice to this most difficult subject. The real question is, “When is it time to throw in the towel and quit on someone and the relationship that you shared?”


I sincerely believe that most friendships can be improved with open, non-threatening conversations. I feel that relationships are successful when no one is keeping score. I honestly believe that healthy boundaries and mutual respect are essential to friendships that pass the test of time.

There have been times I have parted ways with close friends for weeks, months, and in one case many years. Sometimes it is hard to come back from angry words and major disappointments. We all have expectations of what a real friend means to us. The discord comes from people attributing different definitions of what a BFF has to do or be to qualify for the title.

Ginger kitten under the ear of a sleeping Basset pup

So this brings me to the subject of, “When should you give up on a relationship?” The cold truth is that NOT all friendships and relationships are meant to be lifetime commitments.

My personal thoughts regarding the time to move on are the following:

  1. Trust has been broken and cannot be repaired.
  2. The friendship has become toxic and/or unhealthy.
  3. There are more fighting times than good times.
  4. Your personal energy is compromised and you feel unhappy after spending time with this person.
  5. You no longer have things in common that you once shared.

It is normal to feel sad when you are faced with the loss of someone who at one time was very important to you. It is normal to expect that you will miss that person. Pictures, holidays, and fun times shared can never be taken away. Treasure these, as they are imprinted on your heart. However, and this is very important, don’t keep someone in your life simply because there was a time you were close. You have a right to expect the people you care about to have your back, and for you to have their trust.

Know your own worth. Don’t settle for less…not in yourself, not in your friends. The dictionary defines the word friend as a person you know well and regard with affection and trust. This is the least we should expect from those we call a friend.

When I was teenager I was told if you could count on one hand the people you can really depend, upon you are doing well.

I address this subject in several chapters of my soon to be published book, 12 Ways To Discover What Makes You Tick. I give examples, exercises and easy to understand solutions. You can look for these in the chapters I call, Honoring Yourself and Don’t Spend Time with Negative People.

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How Can I be a Better Person?

In the 1997 movie As Good as it Gets, Jack Nicholson’s character tells his ladylove, “You make me want to be a better person”. While this might seem corny 18 years later, there is much to think about here.

We all have people in our lives that elevate our behavior. These people take the high road; they show patience and compassion, which we view with awe. Being around them just ups our game. Their kind of energy and behavior is a very positive influence on our lives.

Mighty Mouse


And then there are the people in our circle that we can truly say, “I don’t like me when I am with you”. In a recent conversation with good friends this very topic came up. I actually broached the subject when I found myself reacting to someone else’s rage by disregarding my ‘good judgment’ and saying things I later regretted. Not that these things didn’t need to be said, but it was the manner in which I expressed myself that I regret.

I take full responsibility for what comes out of my mouth and what flies off the pages. However, it is not lost on me that we all have those people in our lives who can ‘push our buttons’ like no others can.


Frog with Large Mouth

There are many articles written (mine included) that give sage advice on how to avoid going down the verbal lane that leaves behind many wounded, including ourselves. Some of the most common bits of wisdom are:

  • Take a time out
  • Don’t use the argument as an excuse to dump years of anger
  • Give the other person the chance to talk
  • Address only the issues
  • Don’t yell or talk in anger
  • Agree to disagree

The truth of the matter is that sometimes these rules just don’t work. Sometimes we have to make difficult choices. Some relationships are simply toxic. And although there can be much sadness in the loss of a friendship, there often is a defining moment when it is VERY clear that changes need to be made. Not every friendship is meant to last a lifetime. When we stop being nice to one another or when we take that person for granted or when we feel there is more anxiety than happiness, perhaps it is time to close this chapter. This is never easy to do, for we often spend endless hours thinking about the good times. We often drag out pictures of silliness and laughter we had once enjoyed. We do this at the same time we question whether we truly want to permanently end all contact.  But in the end, it is in our best interest to use sound judgment and if need be, give ourselves permission to move on.

During our lifetime we teach others how to treat us by what we expect and what we ultimately accept. My personal gauge: I am close to people when I feel ‘good about me’ being in their company. These people don’t demand, they ask. They appreciate, they do NOT keep score.

Each one of us should have our own personal list of what is a deal breaker in our relationships. Spending time with positive people can make us want to be a better person by being around them.

Don’t you agree?

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As An Adult, What Advice Would You Give To The Child You Use To Be?

I found an interesting article in People Magazine this week where various movie stars and other famous people were asked what advice they would give their ‘younger’ self.

I found this interesting because most all of the people interviewed said, “Enjoy wherever you are in life, learn from your mistakes and don’t take yourself or what others say so seriously.”

I cannot stress enough about this journey called life. And it doesn’t really matter what age you are or where you are in your life. It will provide you with highs and lows. It will offer you chances and then take them away, and it will give you reason to laugh and to cry. You will, if you are lucky, feel and love so deeply that the loss and hurt will be painful.

Life should NOT be walked through; it should be approached with gusto, loud laughter and big old crocodile tears. Whatever age you are, take chances, open your heart, open your mind.

Look at your life as a gift. Treasure that gift. Always learn, always be kind, and always elevate those around you. Be the positive force in someone else’s life, but more importantly, be the positive force in your own life.


Don’t wait until you are in a nursing home or not mobile, to think of all the things you wanted to do and didn’t. Get up everyday and, as they say, “Take it on”!

Your younger you!

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When Life Kicks You in the Ass

I am not talking about making lemonade from lemons.  I am not talking about dealing with life’s little challenges.  I am talking about when life truly hits you with a full-blown-out catastrophe. 
A 24-hour pity party with a box of chocolate won’t help.  A glass of wine with a friend doesn’t cut it.  And the sage old advice about life not giving you more than you can handle is pure bunk.
When the disappointment seems unending.  When your sadness seems like a life-sentence, when there are no good solutions, how does one go on?
When it come to mistakes we’ve made, unfairness or the many injustices  others have done to us, it really only hurts us if we obsess about it.  Fostering hurts and wounds only keeps them alive for us.  The other guy has moved on and more likely than not is not affected by his or her actions.
Whether you were over looked for promotions.  Whether a fire or other natural disaster took your possessions, whether you experienced a loss of a friend or family member, the reality is life does continue.
I read and hear about such tremendous challenges people go through.  I read and hear about where their lives are years later.  So many are stronger, and although have the physical and emotional scars continue to keep going.  Yes, some better than others.
I believe the reality is that most of us will experience situations that will question our faith, question ourselves, cause us to wonder if it really is worth it and have us wonder whether the world wouldn’t be better off without us.
If this sounds like a familiar story line, one just needs to have seen the Christmas movie called, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
I have no answers or solutions.  I have always felt it is not the trouble we get into that is important; it is how we handle it that speaks of our character and worth.
So, when life seems to kick you in the ass, whether you helped it or truly are a victim, accept it, own it, look for solutions and move on with your life.  It is what survivors do.


A young wife called into a talk radio show to complain about her messy husband and noisy kids.  She said she was tired of picking up after him and reminding her little ones to be quieter.
As soon as she aired her list of complaints, to which the on-line therapist gave her suggestions on how to deal with her family, another caller was waiting to pipe in.
This woman in her 70s said her husband died many years ago and her children have long been gone, having moved away for careers and to live their lives.
She said she too used to complain about the same kinds of things.  She said her house is now very quiet.  TOO quiet.  And everything is in place, not a shoe or piece of clothing ‘hanging’ around.
With much wisdom and reflection, the older woman said it is the very things we complain about that one day we will miss.
When you walk into your home and hear the kids yelling or arguing, stop and think, one day they will move on.  When you see your partner’s clothes or personal property on the kitchen table or floor, stop and think, what if something were to happen to them.
One of the best advice I was given in my 30s by a favorite employer of mine was, “Roni, don’t sweat the small stuff.”  He then went on and pretty much threw everything other than health and real tragedy into the small stuff category.
Don’t wait until you are older and you are alone to realize how much you will miss the very things that bother you now.


No Good Deed

One of my earliest memories of my dad teaching us a grown-up lesson was, “Never hire family, loan money or play match maker.”  He went on to say that more likely than not, the nephew you wanted to help turns out to be lazy, the money somehow never gets paid back and anyone who has actually fixed up a friend or two on a date has their own horror story.
So, what happens when a friend or relative just wants to be helpful?  Do they ignore their desire to give a helping hand?  Do they turn the other way because they are concerned things could go badly?  When we think about it this way, it does seem unfeeling and cold to do nothing at all.
And yet, over the past many years I have witnessed all of the above.  And, every single one of them turned out badly.  Some worse than others. 
All of the examples I gave started with the best of intentions.  Most of the people involved talked about the situation.  They made realistic plans and time lines.  AND YET, when all was said and done, relationships were strained and friendships tested.
I have no real answers or advice here.  And, I believe that although lessons were learned by all, given a similar set of circumstances today, they would do the same thing.  I think it speaks to the heart and not the head.
Perhaps the lesson is, “Don’t look for the thank you or the payback.” Acknowledge that what you did, you did because you chose to.  AND, no matter the outcome, you did it not for the ‘hero’ factor but because it made you feel good.



It had been so many years now since this person caused me major personal and professional grief.  When I think about how much closer we are now, I have to admit without ever really giving this much thought (until right now), somewhere along the line, I have forgiven her.
I suppose for me, time and circumstances helped me to put the past in the past and move on.  I truly believe for most of us it is a better choice than staying angry.  Holding on to past grudges and old hurts and wounds has such a negative effect on us.  While the person who hurt us has moved on, we are still holding tightly to what they did to us.
This isn’t only physically not healthy, but it is emotionally detrimental.  Anger and resentment has such a negative effect on us.  Ever notice how much younger people appear when they are in a good place?  Ever pay attention to those who let life happen and learn to go with the flow?  Well I have.  They seem to be more relaxed, more at peace, and in general happier and healthier.
People who are always uptight, angry and resentful come across as negative and always on edge.  Is that you?  If so, what are you doing to learn how to let go of things you can’t change?  What are you learning from years of being angry, hurt and disappointed?  Are you getting what you want from this?  Is this working for you?
Isn’t it time for you to start forgiving people?  Whether you take them back into your life doesn’t matter.  Whether you pick up the phone or send an email isn’t important.  What is important is that in your mind and body you let go of the negative baggage this has been for you, open your heart, and learn to forgive.

Try it, and let me know if you start to feel just a little bit better.  I know for me, I do.

Regrets and/or Remorse

I am pretty sure that most everyone walking the face of the earth has made decisions and then at some point, has had regrets.  Life is a series of choices, roads taken and experiences.
To have never made a wrong choice or a bad decision is virtually impossible.  It could be something as simple as getting a bad perm or buying a used car without having it checked out.  Or, it could be something more important like choosing a profession and later in life, wishing you took a different career path.  Or something life changing such as breaking up a marriage, having an abortion, or giving up a child for adoption.  And later wish you hadn’t.
We make decisions for all sorts of reasons.  Some are made with thought and planning, and some are made with our heart and gut feeling.  I believe that most of us make decisions with good intentions.  In most instances, we don’t really get to know the impact of many decisions until years later.  And by then, more often than not, we can’t change the outcome.
So how do we come to terms with feelings of remorse and/or regret?  I guess for each of us it is different.  Some of us might simple accept the fact that we did the best we could at the time.  Others may hold onto their mistakes and allow themselves to be weighed down.  And, for many, the combination of both.
However you work through and accept things you did and can’t change, acknowledge that you are human.  And with being human, you are not perfect.  As you have learned to forgive others, learn to forgive yourself.