How to Stay Calm in an Argument

Arguments are part and parcel of everyday life and the way humans communicate. While they're not something to generate on purpose, neither should you treat an argument as an excuse to declare war or to shrink and hide from. By staying calm in an argument, you'll avoid an out-of-control situation and you'll be more inclined to stand back and dig deeper for the real issues driving the argument. Calmness is an important step towards resolution of any disagreement.


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    Focus on what the other person is really getting at. Understand that behind every argument is an underlying issue. Taking personal offense (as many people do) is the quickest way to lose control of the situation. Seek to look for what the person is really saying and is really upset about, even through a flurry of angry words and accusations. By standing back and picking apart the real reasons, you deflect the personalizing of the argument and begin to look for constructive ways to deal with the real issues.
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    Remain calm. Breathe in more slowly than you typically would. Maintain your tall and poised posture. Avoid aggressive body language, such as folding your arms or balling up your fists––even through yelling and tears a person detects the body language and will ramp up the arguing.
    • Whenever someone says something that upsets you, just breathe in and out deeply and slowly. Give yourself the space you need to calm down by using your breathing as a slowing down mechanism that lets you see the situation more clearly.
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    Nod and reiterate that you understand the other person's plight. Empathy is the path to understanding, and should there be any sort of legitimacy to their outburst, it is your duty as an enlightened communicator to uncover it.
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    Never shout. If you shout, you will lose control and will find it harder to think clearly. You will also likely turn the argument into a shouting match rather than a constructive conflict.
    • Speak with a calm voice.
    • Apologize if you do shout. It happens, so say sorry and restore the calm voice.
    • You could also thank the other person for putting up with the yelling and promise to (and actually) stop immediately.
    • Shouting in public will attract onlookers. Both embarrassing and potentially troublesome. It doesn't do your reputation much good either.
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    Do not resort to insults. This turns what could be a constructive disagreement into a grudge match, in which both of you will be tempted to outdo the other in the vile aspersions you can cast at one another.
    • If insults cause crying, others will often side with the crying person because the person forcing the crying looks like an intimidating bully.
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    Keep the attitude to a minimum. You might be right and they might be wrong but more probably, there is a middle ground neither of you have yet found and sticking to being right just blanks your ability to find compromise, see their perspective and be reasonable. Stay calm and relaxed, listen for the underlying message and bite back any nasty criticisms you feel tempted to fling forth.
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    Wait for the other person to steam down. In the majority of cases, one cannot maintain a level of aggression long enough to keep an argument burning. This is what you might call the turning point. They begin to reassess the statements and claims they have made as they are lowered from the boiling point.
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    Reach a conclusion if possible. Wrap it up with a statement of empathy, such as "I understand where your coming from, I've been there myself. I want to make this right, but for me to do that I need your support, not your anger.". Letting the opposing party think that they have won is ultimately the only way to resolve conflict with an irrational (I.E. Angry) individual. An argument is a failed negotiation, it is your responsibility to pick up the slack and reach the end game, assuming there is one.


  • Your body language speaks for you. Be mindful of it when under pressure or angry––what it says without you acknowledging it can escalate an argument.
  • If the other person begins to yell and scream at you, just take a step back from them and stay quiet. Also consider walking away until you both calm down.
  • Your opinion still matters. It is more the how you put it across rather than the fact you have one.
  • Be sincere; let this be reflected through your eyes as you speak calmly.
  • Realize that this is about seeking common ground and airing issues. It is not about grinding one party into the ground and yelling victory. That won't help your future relations with this person.
  • Crying is not a good way to respond to an argument. It will give the other person a sense of power over you and suggests you've already given up and let them win.
  • It is better to understand than to be understood.

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Categories: Managing Arguments