Fact: everyone argues from time to time, but let’s face it, it’s never a pleasant experience. Words are often exchanged in the heat of the moment that can’t be taken back and while some people would ‘argue’ that a little bit of arguing is healthy and sometimes needed to ‘clear the air’, we believe that there are better ways to resolve the tension.
So here are our ten top tips to avoid getting into unnecessary conflict:
1. Don’t bottle it up.
If you feel upset about something or if someone has angered you, the worst thing you can do is bottle it up. Seething leads to frustration and eventually, you won’t be able to contain your emotions. Inevitably your feelings will out, and if you haven’t processed them in a healthy way, it is likely you will erupt in anger. When something has bothered you, voice it, talk about it, find a way to resolve it and move on.
2. Say it, don’t shout it.
If you are too upset to reasonably talk about what is bothering you, say ‘I am feeling too upset right now to talk about this – can we talk about it later?’. By doing this you give yourself time to calm down, collect your thoughts and approach the matter in a way that isn’t likely to start a row. It is much easier to resolve a problem if you talk about it calmly rather than raising your voice. Shouting is likely to make the other person feel defensive and their reaction might be to shout back.
3. Don’t bring up the past.
If you have forgiven someone for something they did in the past, then stick to your word and leave it in the past! It is not fair to say you have forgiven someone and then continue to hold a grudge or bring it up every time a problem arises. If you feel like you can’t move on from the event, then maybe be honest with yourself and the other person. It might be that you are better off out of each other’s lives for now. Letting go can be hard but sometimes it is the healthiest thing to do.
4. Try and understand their point of view.
Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their point of view, no matter how hard it might be. Try not to devalue their opinion. You might be able to find a compromise that suits you both.
5. Agree to disagree.
If you have given point 4 a genuine go but still can’t seem to understand where they are coming from; agree to disagree. So, you have different opinions on the same subject? Think about it. Does it really matter? Is it worth hurting each other’s feelings over or can you put it to one side and move on?
6. Rise above it.
If you feel like someone is trying to pick a fight with you, don’t give them what they want – be the bigger person and rise above it. If you feel like they are trying to provoke you, remove yourself from their company and environment for a while. Take a walk, watch a show, give them space to calm down. It is very likely that when you reengage with them a couple of hours later, their mood will have changed. If not, ask them what is bothering them and sincerely offer your help.
7. Calm down.
If you know that you are prone to argumentative moods, familiarise yourself with healthy coping mechanisms. We have a great blog post which lists 101 ways you can chill out and reduce stress. Try and count to ten slowly in your head before speaking to someone in an abrupt tone, or voicing something that might cause a row – evaluate whether it is worth it. Breathe deeply when you feel yourself getting annoyed and try to imagine things that make you happy in life. This might lift your spirits and stop you from causing yourself and someone else distress.
8. Don’t take it personally.
When people are angry, frustrated or upset, sometimes they say things they don’t mean. Try not to take a bad mood personally or what they say in the heat of the moment to heart. Sometimes when we are stressed we lose clarity of vision and say things we don’t actually mean just to hurt the other person; words we wish we could take back. Keep that in mind next time you go to say something hurtful – will you regret having said it once you have calmed down?
9. Be the one to stop it before it starts.
If you feel tension brewing, ask the other person if everything is okay or if you have done anything to upset them. Nip it in the bud before it escalates!
10. Admit when you’re wrong.
Sometimes it is incredibly hard to admit when you are in the wrong but if you are, find the courage to admit it. You will only command respect from the other person by doing so and you will feel better about yourself for acknowledging the truth. Arguing for the sake of it is pointless. If you mean it, say sorry.