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Home » How to Stop Arguing With Your Partner: Roderick Jeter (Transcript)

How to Stop Arguing With Your Partner: Roderick Jeter (Transcript)

Here is the full text and summary of Roderick Jeter’s talk titled “How to Stop Arguing With Your Partner” at TEDxSanDiego conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


Why be angry? What if we knew how to resolve our disagreements with the one we love in just minutes? No fuss, no drama. Can you imagine the possibilities? Would we all be happier? Would more couples stay together? Would the divorce rate drop?

Could we decrease the number of kids growing up in single parent homes? Would that reduce teenage pregnancies and high school dropout rates? Could we cut back on teenage drug abuse, gang affiliation, incarceration, homelessness, maybe even the need of some social services for minors?

If we are resolving our disagreements, no fuss, no drama. Are the kids watching? Will they learn by example and carry this into their relationships, on the playground and into adulthood? If everybody is going to be happy at home now, does that mean our managers and supervisors might come to work happier? Would our co-workers come in happier? Would we show up happier? What would that do for work morale and productivity in America and around the world? Why be angry?

Over the last couple of years, I have traveled coast to coast, recording couples playing a simple game. What if I told you that I have recorded issues and disagreements that have lasted for longer than 10 years, 20 years, 40 years, even almost 60 years being resolved on average in less than 26 minutes. No fuss, no drama. 26 minutes.

Do you have 26 minutes to resolve yours? Why be angry? There are a few ground rules, but this is how it works. The couple will start by agreeing to focus on a single issue and reducing that issue into a simple yes or no question.

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Let’s use the most common issue I have recorded. Should she initiate sex more often? Yes or no? He will start by writing down the details to support his yes, of course, position on this issue. While at the same time, she’s writing down all the reasons and all the details to support her oh no, uh-uh position.

Once all the details are on paper, now it’s time to talk. Now they’ve probably had a conversation about this before, maybe even several, but this time, this time is different. Using the details they have just written, this time they will focus on this issue by focusing on the details of the issue, one detail at a time. She might start by reading to him one of her details, starting with her most important detail.

Now the next two steps, they are crucial. Having heard her most important detail, one, without debating, he will repeat back to her what he believes she means in his own words. Two, he will then ask, is that right? So he might say, so what you’re saying to me is you would like to be romanced into initiating sex more often with more foot rubbing, shoulder and neck massaging from me. Is that right?

If this is what she means, she will say yes. I believe this allows her to feel heard and now she can hear him when he responds. And when he responds, he can respond to what she actually means, not something he thinks she means because of all the stuff he has in his head.

He might respond like this, honey, you want to be romanced into initiating sex with more foot rubbing and shoulder and neck massaging from me? Baby, I can do that. But from my perspective, that is still me initiating sex. They will continue to focus on this detail and the remaining details one detail at a time until the issue is resolved.

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This will absolutely work. Processing the detail in writing slows communication, giving them both time to think and respond thoughtfully. This approach is much more effective than the quick emotional response that often happens in disagreements.

Why be angry? Using this approach, I was able to help my parents resolve the same argument they’ve been having all of my life. My mom has a TV in almost every room. And when the TV or cable goes down in any room, she wants it fixed.

Today, this enrages my dad: You grew up with eight people in the house and one TV. Why now do you need a TV in every room?

My mom would respond, I don’t spend any darn money. All I have is my TV. Well, they agreed to sit down and play. I made them aware that the relationship has to win or they both lose. Just a few minutes later, problem solved. Even I couldn’t believe it this time. I know these people.

But as always, in amazement, I asked, why after so many years, were you able to resolve this in just a few minutes? My mom says, well, we talked about it. But haven’t you talked about it before? Mom says, no, we just argued about it.

It was eight months after recording my parents resolving this 57-year-long issue that I realized of all the couples I had recorded, not one person, not one had written profanity or even an exclamation mark on paper. There was no yelling or cussing on paper. So my dad, you grew up with eight people in the house and one TV. Why now do you need a TV in every room?

Well, that just simply became, you grew up with eight people in the house and one TV. Why do you need a TV in every room? Which was only a question that allowed my mom to think. And my mom’s, well her, I don’t spend any darn money. All I have is my TV. That, that became, I don’t spend any money. All I have is my TV, which garnered more compassion from my dad.

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No one was attacking. No one was defensive. Finally, they were able to hear each other. Finally, they both felt heard. You can resolve most any disagreement with the one you love in just minutes. No fuss, no drama. Imagine the possibilities. Why be angry? Thank you.

Want a summary of this talk? Here it is.


In this talk titled “How to Stop Arguing With Your Partner” Mr. Roderick Jeter outlines a simple yet effective approach to resolving disagreements and conflicts in relationships quickly and without drama. Here’s a breakdown of the key points from this talk:

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