Do you ever win arguments? Really?
I’m not sure you do. Arguing is frequently just verbal jousting that deteriorates into a pitched battle with lines drawn in the sand. There is no objective, so how can there be a winner? You just end up with two losers.
Only now instead of either side getting what they want, both sides are hurt, angry, and bitter.
So, stop doing that.
Try these things instead.
Have you ever had an argument pop up out of nowhere and take you completely by surprise? Wait, before you start nodding your head, think about it. Have you really? In my experience, most of the time, I saw it coming a mile away. It usually occurs following a sequence of avoidance techniques and ignoring the problem until it blows up in my face.
Why wait for that? Not only are you avoiding the inevitable, but you’re also making it worse. And for however long you put off the conversation, it’s always there in the back of your mind, nagging away and increasing your stress.
Quitting waiting for the shoe to drop, make a preemptive strike. Start with something simple like, “Got a minute? I’ve been thinking about…” whatever it is. And then deal with it.
But, give it some thought first. If you wade in without a resolution in mind, you’re just going to argue now instead of later. Come up with a solution or several possible solutions and have them at the ready.
Acknowledge and Abort
Whether during your preemptive or at the start of an actual argument, nip it in the bud. Acknowledge the problem and abort the argument before it begins. My favorite method that almost always works is to start with a simple, “Let’s fix this.”
Three little words, but each one carries a lot of weight. Let’s. Before anything else, this makes it about us, not you or me. Let us implies there is going to be teamwork and collaboration to solve the problem.
Fix. Repair. Solve. Turn a problem into a solution together.
This. Whatever it is. It doesn’t matter; we can solve it if we work together.
Let’s fix this instead of arguing about it.
But it’s even more than that. It stops the argument before it can begin. No matter who it is, when they confront you with the statement that would inevitably lead to an argument, a simple, “Let’s fix this,” can bring it to a screeching halt. An argument, by definition, requires at least two people.
If you don’t argue, there can’t be an argument.
But sometimes, you are blindsided. You didn’t realize there was a problem. Frequently the intuitive reaction to an argumentative statement is to take the other side and run with it. That’s how arguments happen.
That’s the only way that an argument can happen.
So, don’t do that.
Reply with one or more of these three statements and begin to diffuse the situation. But they also buy you some time. If you are blindsided by something, it’s easy just to react and start arguing, but it’s just as easy to gently postpone the argument until you have time to process it. Any of the three are good, two are better, and use all three for the trifecta.
This simple statement will often take the wind out of someone’s sails. They were expecting pushback, and you didn’t provide any. It will give them pause, and that pause may be enough time for you to think it through. And, best of all, it’s an entirely neutral statement. You aren’t agreeing or disagreeing; you are just saying you understand what they are saying. Empathy is a powerful tool. Use it.
You May Be Right.
I understand can stall a potential argument. You may be right turns it away. Starting with that, you are saying that you aren’t going to argue without actually committing to anything. Again, you aren’t giving into anything. You may be right, obviously implies you may be wrong, but it doesn’t sound like it. It sounds like you may be agreeing with them. But at least you acknowledge the problem and open the door for the possibility that the other person may be right.
Let Me Think About it.
You may think this is kicking the can down the road, but not if you commit to following up. Not if your partner knows that you mean what you say, and you’ll get back to them after you have had time to think about it. It might even be better at first to go ahead and set up that expectation. Let me think about it, and we can talk again this afternoon. When possible, try to resolve things on the same day they come up. Worrying about things overnight can blow them out of proportion.
Of course, the ultimate response would be, “I understand, and you may be right. Let me think about it.”
Just Do It
How often do you argue about something you just don’t want to do? I know for me, that’s always a significant stressor. Thinking about something I don’t want to do from the moment I know about it until the time to actually do it always stresses me out. But there is an effortless way to avoid arguing about something you don’t want to do and stressing over it until it gets done.
Just do it.
Follow Nike’s advice. Or, if you’d rather listen to a person than a corporation, follow the sage advice of Larry the Cable Guy. Get ‘er done!
I wrote about this a while back. and it has been one of my most popular articles. But the whole thing revolves around the simple concept of doing something just because someone wants you to. What’s the harm? What’s the worst that can happen?
Frequently, you are confronted by an argumentative statement because your partner wants you to do something, and they know that you aren’t going to want to do it. So, they are prepared for a pitched battle. The whole thing can be over in a matter of seconds with, “Okay. Let’s do that.”
Bam. Problem solved. Argument aborted.
Arguing is a waste of time and energy. It will drain both of you and rarely solve anything. Instead of arguing, employ any or all of these techniques.