30 May 2009


I found this article to be very interesting - regarding what you should do when in an argument - check out the full article and more the about the author here

Most of it can be used for everyday arguments between colleagues although the article I think was meant to be taken in a relationship context meaning between two consenting adults ;p 

Arguments are an inevitable and normal part of every relationship. Because we are unique, we don't always agree with each other. Arguments can tear relationships apart, or knit people closer together. Some arguments cannot end well, no matter the effort people put into keeping the relationship. However, the result of many arguments depends on what happens in the argument itself.

Some things that can turn an argument into an ugly conflict are:

1. The blame game - Even if you are angry, pointing out what "you" did wrong, and why this is all "your" fault will only escalate the fight. People don't like to feel like they are being accused of something. Even if the person you are arguing with knows you are right, using "you" as a means of getting your point across will make them defensive. Think about it, when someone starts out a conversation with something like "You always" what is your reaction? For most people, a guard immediately comes up, and there is a pull to fight back and defend yourself.

A better approach is to use "I" statements. "I" statements take the focus off the person you are speaking to, and place it on your own reactions and emotions. Another approach that works well is the use of "feeling" statements. As an example, "Being ignored makes me feel like you don't want me around" sounds much less threatening and aggressive than "You always ignore me" and might get the point across a little better.

2. Yelling - Try to keep your voice as neutral as possible. Expressing too much emotion can frustrate the person you are arguing with, and escalate the conflict. People respond best to a speaker who sounds calm, rational, and reasonable. By trying to speak in such a way, you make it more likely that the person you are speaking to will hear you through. If you feel yourself getting angry, take a deep breath, count to ten, or ask for a break.

When the person you are arguing with raises their voice, you can de-escalate the argument by refusing to rise to the bait. Instead of yelling back, continue to speak calmly and quietly. You may even want to lower your voice. If the person has to strain to hear you, it will encourage stillness in them.

3. Dismissing - When people argue, both sides believe they have a valid point. Try to avoid dismissing someone's attempts to express their point by rolling your eyes, making disgusted sounds, or using words like "fine" and "whatever". You will only anger the other person, and encourage them to fight harder to express the validity of their point of view.

Instead, express your disagreement directly. Try something like "I hear what you're saying, but it doesn't make sense from my point of view" or "I have a hard time understanding your reasoning". Statements like these usually get a better response.

4. Interrupting - No one likes to be interrupted. This is another thing people tend to do when they are becoming angry or feel they are not being heard.

Instead of remedying the problem, it tends to make the other person feel angry or misunderstood, resulting in more heated arguments.

5. Chasing - If someone needs a break from the argument, avoid chasing them and forcing them to continue speaking. More than likely, the person is walking away because they are becoming too angry or too frustrated to continue having a productive conversation. Let them go. If you need closure on the argument, wait for a little while before broaching the subject again. A break from the argument may give both of you time to calm down, plan a strategy for presenting your argument, and consider the other person's viewpoint with a little more clarity.

6. Dragging up the past - The current argument is about the current problem. Thinking and fighting about past wrongs will not help to resolve the problem you're having now. If anything, it will make you angrier, and make the other person more defensive. Focus on the problem at hand. If it is an ongoing problem, frame it as an ongoing problem instead of a chain of events.

For example, instead of "this is just like" or "remember last time you" try "it seems like this is a pattern" or "I don't feel like you know how much this upsets me, because it keeps coming up".

7. Force the point - Sometimes compromise is the best solution. You may be absolutely in the right. However, you should consider what you will gain and lose by winning the argument. If the relationship will not change, or there will be lasting resentment and conflict, maybe delivering a sound verbal beating is not in your best interest.

Arguments usually aren't fun, but they don't have to be horrible experiences, either. By keeping a cool head and considering the other person's emotions, arguments can end in less pain for everyone.

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