How to Stop Arguing with Someone

Three Methods:Handling Arguments RespectfullyControlling Your Emotions During ArgumentsPreventing Arguments from Hurting Your Relationship

We all get in arguments from time to time. Sometimes, these arguments become drawn-out ordeals that begin to affect our happiness, not to mention our relationship with the other person. If you’re hoping to argue less often – and maybe stop arguing with one person in particular – a helpful first step is re-evaluating your own state of mind.[1]

Method 1
Handling Arguments Respectfully

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    Be ready to compromise. Ideally, you and whomever you’re arguing with can conclude the conversation on a positive note. In order for this to occur, you’ll likely both need to adjust your positions and metaphorically give up a bit of ground.[2]
    • Be sure you understand the perspective or position of the other person. There may be more to what they’re saying than you’ve considered.
    • Be clear and direct about your own position, and make sure you are clearly understood.
    • Offer possibilities that consider both person’s contributions.
    • Especially in regards to matters of opinion, understand that many minor arguments simply do not need to be resolved.
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    Take note of each other’s needs. Even if a perfect compromise doesn’t present itself, respectfully communicating your needs to one another can help keep a disagreement from worsening into a more serious argument.[3]
    • Make sure you both have the opportunity to clearly and calmly state what you feel needs to happen.
    • Respectfully and quietly listen to the person you’re arguing with state their needs as well.
    • Only after you each understand that the other needs can you talk flexibly about solutions that might give each of you enough of what is needed.
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    Ask about anything that is unclear. As a general rule, questions will help move an argument towards a resolution much better than statements. More to the point, questions will help you both recognize the root cause of the argument, which must happen before you’re able to resolve the conflict.[4]
    • Questions can be simple and straightforward, such as: “Why are you upset?” or “Do you understand why I am upset?”
    • More generally, if it becomes clear that you are not on the same page, consider asking, “How are you seeing this situation?”
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    Listen! Recognize that you don’t need to – and likely will not – agree with everything everyone says. You do need to listen. Allow them to say their piece, while facing them and affirming that you are listening with positive body language.[5]
    • Allowing one another to speak will also help you both feel heard.
    • Re-affirm that you are listening by saying things like “I get that,” or “I understand.”
    • After listening to someone’s response to a question, paraphrase what they said and repeat it back to them, to make sure you’re both on the same page.
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    Acknowledge your role in the argument. In the interest of resolving an argument, and simply in terms of having a respectful conversation, you must admit your responsibility for an argument that has developed. “I” statements can help you reflect and verbalize your acknowledgement.[6]
    • Admit negative sentiments or feelings by saying, “I’m feeling pretty uncomfortable about this right now.”
    • Avoid statements that may sound as though you’re blaming the other person about the argument, such as, “You seem upset about this.”
    • When recognizing your own fault in allowing an argument to escalate, avoid all accusatory language by focusing on how you’re feeling.

Method 2
Controlling Your Emotions During Arguments

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    Re-evaluate your attitude and emotion throughout a tense discussion. While keeping your emotions entirely under control is often challenging, you do need to take responsibility for how your emotions affect your behavior. Recognize that the state of mind, or attitude, with which you approach an ongoing or imminent argument is a significant determinant in your ability to stop arguing.[7]
    • Monitor how you’re feeling physically.
    • If a knot develops in your stomach, you’re holding your breath, or your tear ducts are gearing up, check yourself to make sure you are not about to act based solely on emotion.
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    Don't argue about things that don't matter. When people say things that are ultimately beside the point, you have the power to choose not to let it bother you. Make the decision to ignore statements that are irrelevant or stated during another’s fit of anger.[8]
    • Try to keep a discussion that needs to happen on track, while limiting the extraneous material that may arise with heightened emotions.
    • Don’t allow someone who may be looking for an ego-boost by dragging you into their own emotional turmoil the satisfaction of making you upset.
    • Clearly and simply state that there is no need for insults or irrelevant points to be made.
    • If something is said that needs to be addressed, save it for a different discussion once you both have calmed down.
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    Recognize anger as it arises. Anger is a powerful emotion that will make it harder to prevent behavior that may be destructive to you and your relationships with others. You can literally feel anger build, as your body releases chemicals when strong emotions develop.[9]
    • Recognize that anger alone is not destructive – it’s the behavior that anger sometimes leads to.
    • Be prepared to process anger and resist its physical and emotional effects.
    • Don’t try to avoid or deny your anger. Attempting to quell your anger may lead you to boil over with emotion down the line.
    • Watch your voice. A sure sign that anger might have permeated into your behavior is the volume of your voice. If you catch yourself shouting, know that it’s time to step back and address your emotions before worsening an argument.
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    Create a process to deal with emotional surges. If your or someone you’re speaking with becomes angry, take a few moments to remain silent, and simply breath. If you’re both able to do so respectfully, state how you’re feeling. Take twenty minutes or so apart to think about things and plan to return to the discussion, even if only for a few minutes to make a decision about how best to move forward.[10]
    • Accept that you may not be able to solve the problem right away.
    • Make specific plans to return to an unresolved discussion again, once you’ve both fully calmed down.

Method 3
Preventing Arguments from Hurting Your Relationship

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    Avoid the classic pitfalls of romantic quarreling. Lots of couples fall into predictable argument patterns. Think about the way you and your partner tend to argue, and identify those aspects of your communication patterns you’d like to improve.[11]
    • Start changing your own behavior immediately. Your partner will likely start acting differently as well.
    • Take care to use words and phrases that indicate your willingness to take part in a meaningful dialogue.
    • Watch out for tendencies to withdraw, criticize, convey contempt, and get defensive – in either your own behavior or your partners’.
    • Acknowledge any of these tendencies: Say something like “I want to make sure we both feel valued and heard” or, “We need to make sure neither of us are attacking or belittling one another.”
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    Talk about your feelings before you get angry. When something comes up that needs to be addressed, bring it up amicably, as soon as it convenient to do so. Often, simply verbalizing a concern can avoid an argument about it down the line.[12]
    • Avoid harboring resentment or discomfort.
    • If something upsets you, ask yourself why you’re upset. Decide whether it was just a specific thing, or indication of a larger issue that needs to be discussed with your partner.
    • Acknowledge and address underlying issues to diminish the likelihood that insignificant annoyances – which are inevitable in all relationships – will lead to an argument.[13]
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    Keep stressors that are unrelated to your relationship from affecting your relationship. This seems much easier than it is, but people often vent their frustration on those they are closest to, perhaps especially their romantic partners.[14]
    • You may simply need more space to address your own needs – whether related to work, health, or anything else.
    • Address issues that arise outside of your relationship quickly. Prioritizing damage control in your own life helps prevent the harmful effects of any external stressors from damaging your personal relationships.
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    Recognize when you’re in a negative relationship. Sometimes the trick to stopping arguments with someone is to recognize that it’s time to stop communicating with them altogether.[15]
    • Be honest with yourself about whether a relationship in which you are constantly arguing is bringing you happiness.
    • If you or your partner question the relationship during arguments or repeatedly threaten to end a relationship, you may want to consider whether the relationship is headed for trouble.
    • Neither emotional blackmail or uncertainty about a relationship are sustainable or healthy.
    • An important, simple question to ask yourself: Does this relationship lead more to joy and support, or to frustration and pain?
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    Never abuse your partner or allow them to abuse you. Often, abuse may not seem like abuse, especially at first. Consistently shouting or acting out violently, even if only against objects, cannot be allowed to continue.[16]
    • Leave the house if your partner will not stop shouting or begins to break things.
    • If you are physically abused by your partner, you need to file a police report.
    • If you hope to continue a relationship that has been abusive, meet with a relationship therapist together.
    • If your partner refuses to get help controlling their anger or continues to abuse you, remove them from your life.

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Categories: Managing Arguments