Arguments happen, especially with those closest to you. It’s just a fact of life and something that is worth learning how to do the right way. Yes – there is a right way to argue, or “discuss” something you don’t agree with someone about. If you want to learn how to argue constructively, then you first have to know how not to argue. Here are some phrases you may want to retire before your next argument and what to say instead.
“You’re Crazy/Insane/Off Your Rocker”
Chances are that they probably are acting overdramatic, but when you say this it’s often a reaction to someone else’s behavior. Instead, you should try to decipher what is true in a person’s statement. When you call them crazy then you are basically invalidating their feelings, but no matter how nuts they may sound there’s a grain of truth in there somewhere. Your job is to find it.
Focus on what’s real and rational in a person’s diatribe and help them to feel that you understand what they’re trying to say.
“Ugh, Not this Again …”
How you say something may be even more important than what you say. That’s because humans pick up on tone really easily. Even a statement that may seem neutral written down can have a completely different meaning in the way it is actually said.
The best thing to do in this scenario is to police your tone when discussing something. Use a warm tone and gestures to communicate that you hear someone and are here for them.
It is easy to get exasperated by a situation with someone, but don’t give up hope. It’s perfectly fine to walk away from a discussion if it’s not going anywhere and continue it once both people have calmed down, but don’t storm out declaring that you’re finished with the whole thing.
Later, try to re-open the discussion with something where you validate their feelings and thoughts on the issues. Saying something such as, “I see where you’re coming from” or “I appreciate your perspective” are a great place to start.
Once both parties have calmed down, raise concerns you have. Chances are that once they’ve come down off the emotional ledge they’ll be more open to what your points and feelings are.
Getting along with people isn’t the easiest thing you’ll ever do, but relationships with people you truly care about are some of the best things life has to offer. So, take care of those relationships and help them grow by learning to communicate better.
Image used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Jake Stimpson
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