Some people say a little debate is healthy. I agree. But there is a fine line between a comfortable conversation about differing viewpoints and a full-blown argument.
The key to avoiding arguments in any relationship is effective communication.
I know what you are thinking… “Duh, Roxanne!”
But you would be surprised how many people KNOW this but then when it comes time to implement, emotions just take over and before they know it they are crying, screaming or storming off in a huff.
So to make it a little easier, here are my 4 tips for avoiding an argument.
Get a hold of your emotions BEFORE you lose your cool.
Look, the truth here is that if you follow the trajectory of any argument, it starts out as a conversation where both parties are relatively in control of their emotions. Then it slowly (or rapidly) escalates and the more intense the situation gets, the less control each person has over their emotions.
Basically, the further into an argument you get, the further into the driver’s seat your emotions are climbing. And before you know it, you are in the boot, handcuffed, gagged and Anger, Frustration, Rage and Devastation are in the four seats taking you for a joy-ride, guns blazing!
So before you are hijacked by your emotions, before the conversation is even an argument, prepare yourself to hold on to that steering wheel with white-knuckled determination.
No matter what the other person says, fight to stay calm so that you maintain control of your emotions and your words. Remember, it is easier to communicate effectively and reason with another person if you aren’t ranting and crying like a lunatic.
Choose your words carefully.
So you have your emotions in check. Great! But you can’t say the same for the person you are talking to. They are a ticking time bomb and at any point, they could lose their cool. Once that has happened, you can forget about avoiding an argument, no matter how much you are trying to channel Yoda or the Dalai Lama.
Now you cannot control what the other person does but you can have some influence over their reactions – by choosing your words.
You aren’t being ruled by emotions now so you have the keen ability to access your own personal thesaurus and find ways to communicate what you want to say without sounding accusatory or aggressive (this includes sarcastic and passive-aggressive, for those of you who thought you had found a loophole to vent those emotions!)
This is where you implement that classic technique of “When <this> happens it makes ME FEEL like <this>” rather than a straight out “YOU DID THIS!”
One of the statements of resistance I get when I suggest this is, “Why should I always be the one to control what I am saying? They never do it. I feel like I am caving in to them.”
My answer: Because YOU are trying to avoid an argument, get this person to hear your point of view and improve YOUR communication skills. You are only able to control your own response to the situation, not theirs. And when the situation has calmed down and they are more receptive to you, you can ask them to try to do the same.
In any healthy relationship, both partners should WANT to improve communication. If one partner refuses to make an effort to communicate in a respectful way – well that’s an entirely different blog post.
Know when to walk away.
So you are controlling your emotions to the point where if you clench your jaw any harder you are going to be short a few teeth. You couldn’t be choosing your words more carefully if you were Shakespeare writing a sonnet. But despite your best efforts, this person is set on exploding no matter what you do.
The second you realise this, bite the bullet and walk away. If someone is determined to have an argument, there is nothing you can do (as only one half of the equation) to stop it, except removing yourself from that equation.
Depending on how important the relationship is to you, at some point you may need to attempt to work through the issue again, but let the tension diffuse first before you do that. You should also think about whether it is really important that you and this person agree on this issue or whether it’s one of those situations where there would be no problematic repercussions if you just agreed to disagree. If you assess all of this and decide that it needs to be dealt with, once everything has calmed down ask the other person if you could discuss the matter because you don’t want the issue to crop up again in a heated moment.
Again, if the relationship is important enough to both people, both partners will want to reach a resolution or compromise in a respectful way.
Have reasonable expectations.
Even if you are a communication guru, it is impossible to avoid every argument in a relationship. Understand that having an argument every once in a while is perfectly normal. When two people spend so much time together and are jointly making decisions about finances, raising kids and what to eat for dinner, there are bound to be disagreements.
Accepting that the occasional argument is just part of the territory when it comes to healthy relationships will go a long way in managing your expectations of your relationship and your partner and will prevent you from tail-spinning towards a break-up at the slightest whiff of an argument.
Hope you will find these useful.
If you try these, let me know in the comments below how it goes. Also, if you have any additional tips to share or any questions, also drop them in the comments section.
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