Arguing is the most common and natural way to respond to conflicts in our relationships, whether personal or professional. But growing up most of us were never taught how to argue. We learned by watching our parents or other people do it. And so we naturally do what everybody else does or what we have seen others do – scream and shout to get our point across.
We lean into the emotion and let it take over. But this type of arguing never makes things better. On the contrary, it makes things worse.
Learning to argue in a healthy way begins with framing.
At its core, an argument is essentially a conversation. It is not only an opportunity to express what has broken for you but to also listen to the other person’s perspective. It’s a give and take and keeping this firmly in mind minimizes the chances of the argument getting out of hand. It’s hard to have an effective argument if you don’t know how to have a healthy argument. Here are 4 practices that will bring constructive communication instead of destructive arguments.
1. Leaning Back Rather Into Emotions
Leaning back rather than into the emotions is another important aspect. The most common core emotion that comes up in an argument is anger.
Yes, you may feel frustrated and irritated but those are manifestations of anger. It’s good to remember that there is nothing wrong with feeling angry, especially in the face of injustice, but it must be processed correctly for it to be useful.
The way to handle anger or any emotion (sadness, fear etc.) in an argument is to lean back and not into them. There is a difference. When you lean into an emotion, you allow it to take over and fuel your words and actions. You ride the emotion.
On the other hand, when you lean back, you observe your emotions. You are curious about them, allow them the space to exist. You feel the emotions but they don’t reign over you. This takes practice but the more you do it the better you become at ruling your most intense emotions.
2. Communicate By Using Your Words
The whole point of arguing is to communicate what is wrong with the other person and for the other
person to do the same. This cannot happen if words are not used, and feelings and emotions are not
Using passive aggression, the silent treatment or words that inflame will only make things worse. Be open and speak your heart, and give chance for the other person to do the same.
3. Be Clear On Your Intentions
Be clear on why this argument is important to you. You don’t go around arguing with everybody so when you have to argue make sure you are clear on what is motivating you.
- Is it important to the relationship that you have this argument right now or are you simply wanting to let off some steam?
- Will the end result be worthwhile or will it open up other wounds?
- Whether the situation is ideal or not for an argument, be clear on what is motivating you.
4. Agree To Disagree
Not all arguments will end well so be prepared to accept that some differences are irreconcilable and that is not always a bad thing. Allow room for the other person’s perspectives that may not match your own. Give them the space to work out their own issues. This is not only a courteous things to do but it is also for your own peace of mind and well being.
Walking into an argument can be terrifying but remember arguments are part of life so you want to learn how to deal with them in a mature, meaningful and graceful way as much as depends on you.
You can’t control other people but you can control yourself. Learning to argue in a healthy way is a practice, the more you do it conscientiously, the better you will get at it.
What does arguing in a healthy way look like to you?