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Resolving Quarrels

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Extend the hand of reconciliation
The fastest, most direct way to get another person to behave better and be nicer is to find out what his complaints are and then do everything reasonable to make them go away. It's not easy, it's the road less traveled, but it's the way that works best of all.

Find out what you could do, concretely and specifically, that would make him feel better about the situations that bother him, or your life in general. Try to set aside your own reactions to answer three questions for yourself: In what ways am I at fault here and should make changes? Separate from being at fault, in what ways could I be more skillful? And separate from matters of fault or skill, how could I simply be more giving or gracious? Then take action steadfastly - with dignity and self-respect, with a sense of choosing to act rather than being forced into anything - to implement the answers to these questions.

Be compassionate
This one is listed last because it's probably the hardest one to do, but it's actually the most important of all. Everyone suffers in some way, and you can see the suffering inside another person any time you look - just like he or she can see it inside of you. He's hurting, and that pain is fuelling his quarrel with you.

By understanding his stresses, anxiety, frustrations, anger, and losses better, you will have more perspective on why he's acting the way he does, and you will be more able to work things out with him peacefully. Also, he will sense your good intentions, and that will draw more understanding and compassion out of him. We all live under the same roof - whether it's the one over your kitchen or it's the thin skin of blue sky covering our precious planet - and compassion for the difficult parts of everyone's life is the foundation of being able to live together.


Rick Hanson is a clinical psychologist, Jan Hanson is an acupuncturist/nutritionist, and they are raising a daughter and son, ages 16 and 19. With Ricki Pollycove, M.D., they are the principal authors of Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships, published by Penguin. You can see their website at or email them with questions or comments at; unfortunately, a personal reply may not always be possible.

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