Communication Ground Rules


Following is a list of suggestions & tips to keep a conversation from turning into an argument/fight. This will allow everyone involved to feel less hurt or attached and more understood and cared for.

  1. Only one person speaks at a time.
  1. Keep comments brief, so everyone gets a turn.
  1. Challenge ideas, words, and actions…but make it clear you are not attacking the other person.
  1. Take a time out if the situation is becoming too heated or upsetting. Determine for how long, then return in an attempt to resolve the situation/issue being discussed.
  1. Respect when the other person needs a time out.
  1. Take deep breaths often, to keep yourself calm – ESPECIALLY when you feel like lashing out at the other person.
  1. Do NOT bring up past hurts or arguments.
  1. Do NOT “hit below the belt” or use the other person’s triggers/sensitivities as leverage.
  1. Do not have arguments when there is not enough time, space, or privacy.
  1. Do not allow one argument to “mushroom” into a battle over EVERYTHING. Stay focused on one issue or problem at a time.
  1. Allow humor to arise spontaneously. If done respectfully, letting a smile or giggle through when it feels genuine – perhaps at the absurdity of it all – can work wonders in defusing a heated argument.
  1. When someone breaks a rule, point it out calmly and respectfully (otherwise the rules themselves will become something to fight about).
  1. No name calling.
  1. DO NOT try to “win”!
  1. It’s “ok” to apologize/admit you are wrong.


If you are considering counseling to improve your/your family’s communication skills, or if you need additional information, please reach out to one of our mental health professionals by clicking on the Find A Therapist tab at the top of this page.

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