If You're Bad at Arguing, This Is How You Can Improve
There are very few people in the world who actually enjoy arguing.
For most of us, disagreements are frustrating and anxiety-inducing. Unfortunately, they can't be avoided. You're going to argue with someone at some point, whether it be your parents, friends, significant others or anyone else who gets under your skin.
If you struggle with conflict, as many of us do, you're probably not an effective communicator in your squabbles. Maybe you give up before you really get your point across, simply because you want the argument to end. Perhaps your temper takes over and every fight turns into a screaming match. If you really don't like conflict, you might even turn to the silent treatment, which eliminates any possibility of finding a solution.
Whatever your personal flaws might be, there's always a way to be a little bit better at handling your disputes. If you're bad at arguing, take a look below at our favorite tips on how you can improve and turn a disagreement into a productive conversation.
Talk When You're Calm
When you get in an argument, emotions often run high. If something frustrates you, you're probably desperate to get your point across and make the other party understand where you're coming from. Unfortunately, you can't communicate effectively when you're angry.
If you feel your temper rising and your frustration growing, you have to take a step away before trying to continue the fight. Not only are you unable to focus your thoughts and effectively get your point across when you're frustrated, but you're also more likely to toss out hurtful or personal statements about the person you're arguing with. If you take a step away and come back to the dispute when you're calm, you'll be much more equipped to develop compelling reasoning for your side, instead of allowing your emotions to take over your logic.
(Spongebob Squarepants via Nickelodeon)
Separate the Person From The Argument
Far too often, arguments get overly personal. Someone does something to annoy you, and you decide that they must have acted that way because they're a selfish, inconsiderate, awful person. Once you start thinking that way, the fight becomes about who the other person is, rather than what they did to irritate you.
Someone you care about (or even someone you don't care about) might do something to annoy or hurt you, but that doesn't make them a bad person. Your argument shouldn't be a character assassination that outlines everything you feel is wrong with your opponent. You have to learn to separate the thing you're fighting about from the person you're fighting with. Talk only about the thing they did that annoyed you, and refrain from making sweeping statements about their character or personality.
Listen and Reflect
When you're arguing with someone, the point you're trying to get across is your main concern. And that's okay. You want to be sure that the other person hears you and genuinely understands where you're coming from. However, you're not the only person in the argument. The person you're fighting against also has a point they want to make, and they deserve to be heard as well.
Effective arguing demands that you listen to the other side. And that means you have to genuinely listen, without planning out what your response is going to be. While your opponent is taking, replay what they're saying in your head. You can even repeat it back to them, just to be sure you're understanding their point. Once you start listening to your opponent, you'll be able to address their concerns and push your argument towards a productive conclusion. Not only that, but you'll also show that you're trying to work with them, which will make them much more inclined to listen to you as the dispute proceeds.
(Grown-ish via Freeform)
When someone you're arguing with really believes in their point, they're not going to change their mind simply because you tell them that they're wrong. Instead, you have to guide them towards your way of thinking while still giving them space to draw their own conclusions.
Instead of putting forward your own point and insisting that you're right, ask your opponent questions about why they think the way they do. Questions allow you to stay in control of the conversation by guiding it where you want it to go, but they also allow your opponent to explain themselves and examine their own argument. At the same time, questions start an interactive dialogue that allows both of you to contribute to the conversation, which is much more helpful than two people yelling about why they're right and the other person is wrong.
Concede When Necessary
When you're arguing with someone, conceding any point during the discussion feels like a failure. After all, you want to win the argument, so you don't want to give them anything until they've agreed with where you're coming from. This point of view, however, is rooted in stubbornness rather than a genuine desire to find common ground.
If your opponent makes a good point, it's okay to agree with them. Don't allow your ego to get in the way of finding a solution. Concede with the points that sound reasonable and don't budge on the points that are important to you. If you want the conflict to end, there has to be a little give and take.
(New Girl via Fox)
Focus on Yourself
Even if you're doing everything right in an argument, the person you're fighting against might not be. Sometimes you lose your temper not because of your own actions, but because you feel increasingly frustrated with the way the other person is responding. They might turn to anger and personal attacks, or they may be completely unwilling to listen to what you have to say. Unfortunately, you can't control them.
When you're in an argument, the only thing you can control is yourself. You are in charge of your own actions and reactions, no matter what tactics your opponent uses. If you allow yourself to be provoked by their bad behavior, you'll just end up even more upset and ashamed about the course of the conversation. Focus on doing what's right for you, and let the other person make their own mistakes. Even if you never get them to agree with you, you can take pride in knowing that you handled the dispute as best you could.
Don't Get Distracted
When an argument starts, there's a specific stressor that leads to the disagreement. Unfortunately, arguments rarely stay focused on that one issue. Instead, the little issue snowballs into more and more complaints, until you're suddenly fighting about something entirely different than what annoyed you in the first place. In short, don't do that.
If an argument starts about one issue, stay focused on that issue. If your opponent tries to bring something else up, calmly tell them that you'll talk about that problem later, but that's not what you're discussing right now. By talking only about the one thing in front of you, you limit the scope of the argument. This allows you to solve one issue together, instead of taking on the impossible task of solving everything that annoys you in one conversation.
Need more advice on arguing with people you care about? Click HERE for how to avoid fights while traveling with a friend.