No matter how successful a relationship is, it is never free of arguments and sometimes the arguments can become pretty hard to settle. Before you engage with someone in an argument, it is important to get yourself into the right mindset. You can also increase your chances of reaching a solution by improving your communication skills. Here are a few steps to help you settle your arguments.
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- Self-Control: Conflicts can cause increased secretion of our stress hormones and can impair our judgment making it easy to escalate an argument quickly. However, slow and steady deep breathing can help us remain calm during an argument. Remaining calm will also allow the other person to hear what we are saying in a way that acting angry won’t. Breathing will also slow the heart rate, and calm your body down so that you can approach the situation with a clear head. Taking a walk can also help to gather your thoughts and calm down. If possible, excuse yourself and walk around the block a few times.
- Focus on what you can support with evidence: When in an argument, take your time to analyze the situation. You need to see the other person’s points and learn to give way on issues that aren’t as important as our emotions have led us to believe. Think of the evidence you have on the issue. By doing this, you are taking a second to analyze the situation and calming yourself before speaking. Our initial thoughts and feelings are often worse than what is really true
- Consider the other person’s interests: You need to consider the other person’s interest by viewing the issue from his/her own perspective. If someone believes you have their best interests in mind, they are more likely to listen to you. It will also allow you to come up with a solution that works best for everyone, not just you.
- Identify your main goal: If you are focused on minor details, it may be helpful to think about what the underlying issues might be. If you think through what you actually want and what the person you’re arguing with wants, you might come to the realization that you share the same goal and be willing to compromise on the little details.
- Listen actively to the other person: Active listening is an essential part of settling an argument. Listening with your full undivided attention lets the other person know that you care. Ensure you put away all distractions, such as cell phones, laptops, and tablets, and face the person and making eye contact. Ensure you ask questions when you are unclear and avoid being judgemental.
- Use “I” statements to reduce defensiveness: Starting sentences with “you” can cause the other person to feel attacked and this may put him or her on the defensive. Instead, try to start all of your statements with “I” to keep the focus on your perspective and avoid making accusations.
- Take responsibility for your role in the conflict: While you may feel like the other person is in the wrong, it is often necessary to admit any part you played to settle the argument. Sometimes this isn’t direct action. Your responsibility in the matter might be as simple as forgetting to express a need or want or a miscommunication. To acknowledge your role in a conflict, you might say something like, “I know that I usually remind you to pay this bill and I didn’t this month. I guess we both have some responsibility in this situation.”
- Be willing to relinquish blame: Blame tends to exacerbate conflict. While you may well be “right” about some parts of the argument, it doesn’t help the relationship to fixate on blame. Instead, try to use compassion, and remember your role in the conflict.
- Find a mediator: Having a third party that isn’t involved in the argument to help mediate can give perspective to all people involved and help to resolve the conflict quicker. A good and efficient mediator can help frame things in a way to make listening easier, especially when there’s a lot at stake or there are high emotions on both sides. The mediator should be someone who is objective and will not take sides.