When your partner and you disagree on the solution to a problem or a particular course of action, do you discuss or do you argue? Knowing the difference between a discussion and an argument is crucial to the health of your relationship. Here are five ways to avoid arguing with another person.
An argument is two people trying to sell their ideas to the other person at the same time. The result is that nobody is actually listening to the sales pitch. The harder you each try to sell your ideas, the more frustrated one or both of you will become. The more frustrated you become, the louder you will speak in order to try to be heard. Unfortunately, as one of you raises the volume, the other may begin interrupting. Sound familiar? This is how most arguments typically go.
The first rule of discussion is to converse with each other one at a time. Summarize what you hear the other person saying, then ask intelligent questions to gain more information. By engaging with your partner’s ideas before delivering your own, you will validate what your partner is trying to say. This also creates a sense of satisfaction because you are showing your partner you care about them. The more you can avoid arguing about important topics, the stronger your relationship will be.
Don’t tell a person what you think about their idea until their idea has completely been explored. After all, it’s not about what you think, it’s about what they think. Let your partner fully explain his or her idea. Be sure you fully understand your partner’s perspective and communicate that understanding to your partner. Deal with one idea at a time before contributing something new to the conversation.
Accept another person’s idea as raw material. Once you have validated the idea, then you can build on it. Don’t just sit through another person’s idea in order to determine what you think has value and what does not have value. Try to understand that you don’t have to agree with a person in order to accept another person’s point of view.
Try to respond to another person’s idea with enthusiasm. Show interest. Accepting a person’s thought by saying “I know” is a conversation stopper. Even worse is nodding. Contribute to the conversation. Ask the other person questions to find out more about their ideas. Help the other person more fully explain their reasoning and point of view.
The fact is, it’s impossible to argue with somebody if you explore one idea at a time. When you approach a conversation with the intent to convince the other person that your point of view is better than theirs, you are setting yourself up for an argument. Instead, try to make the goal understanding what the other person is trying to tell you, and why. The better we understand one another, the less appealing argument becomes.