Arguing can be difficult, even in the most well-intentioned of relationships. No matter how harmoniously partners interact day-to-day, disagreement and strife can always come up in one form or another. It is perfectly normal for couples to have different views on life, but knowing how to effectively express yourself in emotionally charged times can become a complex dance of words, escalating emotions, and hurtful insults.
No one wants to feel like a relationship isn't working out, so having a game plan in place to handle conflict and communicate more effectively is key. The LARA method is a communication technique that focuses on the primary fundamentals of good communication, so that couples can try to come to an understanding without the fray.
What is the LARA Method?
The LARA method is a four-step constructive process for navigating and resolving disagreements. Many of us find ourselves automatically going into defensive mode when faced with criticism, verbal attacks, and feeling patronized - this is completely normal. Unfortunately, often this leads to increased frustration and tension. This is why having a structured approach to working through issues can help bring harmony back into your relationship.
LARA stands for Listen, Acknowledge, Reframe and Agree. Here’s a brief look at those four steps and what they mean:
Listening is essential. After all, if you are not listening to your partner, what’s the point? You must take their words at face value and appreciate their angle on a topic before responding. This means giving your undivided attention, asking relevant questions, and reflecting on your partner’s experience, even if you do not precisely agree.
Acknowledge each other’s feelings without being patronizing. Make sure to use statements that recognize and appreciate the person, such as “I can appreciate your feelings,” and “I understand why you're so angry.”
Reframing is best viewed as a way to see a problem from all perspectives while still being respectful of the other person. This doesn’t mean giving in to their demands; it just means looking at things from the other person's eyes and positively redirecting your dialogue away from arguing, towards problem solving.
Sometimes agreements don’t need to be met, so it's ok to acknowledge the conversation without making agreements. Instead of trying to come to a solution, it can be better to just agree to disagree. That way both parties will feel like their perspective has been heard, and can move forward in how to best approach the situation.
The Benefits of the LARA Method
When an argument spirals out of control, it can be mentally, emotionally and physically draining, which is why it’s important to learn effective ways in which to dispute and find understanding in difficult scenarios. With the LARA method, couples can benefit from:
• Better communication – Focusing on the basics of healthy communication during times of disagreement can increase understanding and channel energy into finding mutually agreeable solutions.
• Lower stress levels – Stress-relieving tactics — such as disengaging and breathing exercises — can be implemented during a heated discussion to prevent panic and irrational reactions.
• Improved problem-solving abilities – Reframing the conversation can shift disputes from blame-game to productive problem-solving.
• Deeper connection – As repetitive negative patterns break down, couples will naturally foster a much deeper connection with one another.
Struggles are inevitable in any type of relationship so it’s best to start learning safe and validated methods to promote smooth communication. If we listen, reframe and agree, it’s possible to settle disagreements without hard feelings taking over. The LARA method can surely put couples in a calmer frame of mind and promote kindness during arguments.