In the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie states, "If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent's good will." We all will face arguments throughout our lifetimes. Whether or not those arguments are effective or pointless depends on the way we go about arguing. When we argue with our emotions, the argument tends to yield little to no results. You and the other person will continue to argue without being able to see the other's side because pride will prevent any progress.
Arguments are a necessity in any relationship. Everybody has different perspectives, so our values won't always line up with everybody else's. Whether we are arguing with our significant other or arguing with a coworker, learning how to effectively communicate our side of the argument will be essential in getting our point across. So how do you successfully argue?
Is it worth an argument?
The first step to a successful argument is deciding whether the argument is worth bringing up at all. Sometimes, we find ourselves in a bad mood and start an argument unnecessarily. We've all been there. You're in a grumpy mood and your significant other forgot to put the chicken to defrost. Your grumpy mood begins to boil over and you escalate this small mistake into a huge argument.
In this case, the argument will be unproductive and end with your partner and you both angry at each other. When we allow our emotions to overcome our logic and start an argument out of anger, any points we bring up will typically fly through one ear and out the other of your partner.
When you feel that anger boiling up, take a deep breath and evaluate how productive this argument will be. Are you actually upset with the other person or is there something else bothering you? Is this an ongoing issue that needs to be discussed or is it a one-off mistake that doesn't typically happen? What can you say that will fix the issue? Taking the time to evaluate your own thoughts and emotions will allow you to solidify your argument or avoid it all together.
Take Your Time
Don't jump straight into the argument. This can often lead to speaking out of anger, causing you to hurl accusations, insults, and who knows what else at your partner. Often, when we begin an argument out of anger, rather than taking the time to gather our thoughts and speak logically, our partner will respond out of anger. This will lead to an unproductive, often escalated argument that will have no true conclusion. Instead of starting your argument as soon as you feel frustrated with your partner, let them know that there is something the two of you need to discuss later in the day. Giving yourself time to gather your thoughts allows you to discuss your issues logically rather than emotionally, which will help your argument come to a successful conclusion rather than escalate into an unproductive fight.
Listen Without Interrupting
When you and your partner are having an argument, interrupting each other is the fastest way to an unproductive, and often escalated fight. Often, we just want to feel heard and forget to actually listen to our partner. It is often difficult to listen to your partner when you are constantly reacting to everything they are saying. When your partner is telling you their perspective, listen to what they are telling you. Actually hear their perspective and take it into consideration. Try to avoid reacting to their point of view and allow yourself time to hear, consider, and respond to what they are telling you about their own thoughts and feelings.
Keep it Respectful
This is possibly the most important step to a successful argument. When you are presenting your argument, try to keep it as respectful as possible. Remember that your partner is a person who you love and treat them like it. Do not cuss at each other, call each other names, or hurl accusations. Simply speak about how you are feeling and why you are feeling that way and, as mentioned above, listen to what they are feeling and why they are feeling that way.
Take a Time-Out
We are all human and, sometimes, our emotions get the best of us. Rather than reacting to your feelings of anger, let your partner know that you need a break from the conversation if it is escalating and will get back to your discussion once the both of you have calmed down.
Come to a Conclusion
Leaving an argument unfinished for too long will only build resentment and more frustration. It is okay to take a break from an escalating argument, but make sure to get back to the discussion when you have both cooled down. Discuss what solution will be the most beneficial for your relationship and how you will implement that solution.
If All Else Fails, Seek Couple's Counselling
Some people may struggle to communicate their thoughts and feelings properly, causing tension to build in their relationship. Couples who struggle to communicate effectively can be taught effective communication techniques in couple's counselling. Couple's counselling can help your partner and you work through your current problems, as well as learn how to work through future issues yourselves. You may even learn something new about your partner, and finally be able to see things form each other's points of view.
Partners will argue. It is an inevitable issue that will arise in every relationship. You aren't going to agree on everything and that is okay. Learning how to argue in a healthy and effective way is the best way to prevent your relationship from turning resentful and toxic. At the end of the day, the two of you just want to feel loved, validated, and heard. Work to make sure that the both of you are receiving the love and care that you need through proper communication and effective arguments.