How to Argue Without Fighting

· November 10, 2016

Is it possible to argue without fighting? For some people, this is simply impossible. But yes, it is. Though this is an especially complicated task when the argument takes place with someone you live with, the truth is that arguing without fighting is not only possible, it’s healthy. For yourself as well as for the other person, whatever the argument may be about.

Resolving conflicts is important and, if the result is positive, the relationship will be enriched. However, many people don’t know how to deal with opinions different from their own in a reasonable manner, without getting angry. At other times, not being able to see one’s own limitations or defects makes the argument impossible.

“Clinging to rage is like grabbing a burning piece of coal with the intention of throwing it at someone; you’re the one who is going to end up burnt.”
-Buddha-

Arguing doesn’t mean facing off in order to win

One of the main problems over which people fight about when they argue is that they consider arguments as competitions. One which will have a winner and a loser. Many people take arguments very personally, as if not coming out on top is demeaning.

couple-arm-wrestling

With arguments, situations are created that take competitiveness to the extreme. Many people provoke violent discussions just for the sake of winning it, to prevail, to feel powerful.

That’s why it’s important to approach your discussions from a healthy perspective. A dynamic in which, despite their anger, people can communicate harmoniously, without trying to impose themselves. Being receptive in the face of the other person’s need to express themselves.

“In a controversy, in the instant that we feel hate, we have ceased to fight for the truth and have started to struggle for ourselves.”
-Buddha-

Suggestions to argue in a civilized manner

There’s a popular saying that two people can’t fight if one of them doesn’t want to. However, the situation can become absurd. Many people take advantage of the few that can remain calm. In any case, any discussion should be oriented towards resolving the conflict or coming to some form of agreement by consensus. Anything else would be a waste of time and energy.

But, how can we do this? Up next, you’ll see some strategies that will transform violent discussions into constructive conversations. You will need a good dose of patience and self-control. Nobody said it would be easy.

  • Reflect before you start arguing. Ask yourself if you truly seek a solution or an agreement or if what you really want is to hurt the other person or feel powerful.
  • Plan the argument out before hand. You can’t have an argument at any time. You have to find a moment that is good for you, as well as the other person. When both of you have all your wits about you.
  • Express your intentions clearly and directly. Don’t beat around the bush, don’t accuse the other person. Don’t focus on the the facts, but on the solutions.
  • Specify what you expect from the other person. Make clear the change that you are proposing and how you expect the other person to behave.

What to do if you find yourself in a violent discussion

The previous advice is valid for when you are the one who is going to initiate the discussion. But, what happens when someone starts a heated discussion with you? Many times we have found ourselves replying violently as well, even saying things we have afterwards regretted. And we don’t even know how we got to that point.

There’s no doubt that it is very hard to react in a calm and diplomatic manner when accusations are being thrown your way. Or when you are being yelled at or provoked. If you weren’t able to overcome this first hurdle, don’t worry. There are still ways to fix it.

  • Stop talking, and take a deep breath. Take some time to absorb the impact, take stock of the situation and start over.
  • Ask the other person to calmly explain what they want or what is happening. Don’t let them keep yelling at you. Ask them to please express themselves.
couple-holding-hands

  • Listen to the other person without interrupting. Try to understand their point of view. In order to do this, you need to know everything. When they are finished, ask them about the doubts you might have.
  • Ask them to tell you what they want and what they propose that you do (and how).

What if the other person insists on yelling and provoking you?

Then see it as a game where the winner isn’t whoever shouts the loudest, but whoever can remain calm. In these conditions, you’re not going to get anywhere. And if what the other person is looking for is war, they will find no bigger war than the one they will unleash on themselves for not getting you to lose your cool.

The best thing to do is to wrap up the conversation as soon as you can. Tell the other person that you would like to talk again when they calm down. You are well within your right to demand respect. In doing so, you are respecting yourself. That doesn’t imply arrogance, but rather self-esteem. You can’t ask anyone else to respect you if you don’t respect yourself.

“Anger is a very intense emotion that takes over the brain. When anger entraps us, it makes our memories reorganize themselves. To the point where one can forget, in the middle of an argument, why it even started.”
-Daniel Goleman-