How to argue wisely and successfully
Arguments are needed in every relationship. In fact, they have a very important function. Because every person develops throughout their life, arguments allow you and your partner to stay tuned and develop in a similar direction. Provided, you argue wisely and reach an agreement.
I’ve elaborated on why arguments are important here.
Below you can find 10 tips about how to argue in a wise way and to achieve mutual success in the end.
10 tips how to argue wisely
1. Name the problem and seek its solution
A successful argument is such that resolves certain problems that arise. In order to find that solution both of you need to focus on the goal.
2. Separate the problem from the person
It is the situation, not the person, that creates the problem. If you focus on the situation, you won’t offend your partner.
3. Speak of facts
When getting emotional, we tend to express our opinions as if they were facts. If you want to argue succesfully, you need to distinguish facts from opinions and make sure that you know your facts.
4. Speak of your emotions
Speaking of the other person may hurt. If you say “You are like this or that”, they may feel offended or, on the other hand, they may just say you’re wrong. However, if you say “I feel terrible when you do this” they cannot tell you “No, you don’t feel this way.” What is more, speaking of your emotions allows you to get to know yourself better.
5. Don’t say words that can’t be “unsaid”
There are certain phrases that should not be spoken out under any conditions, even when you feel very emotional and your partner is driving you crazy. Saying such things as “I’ve never loved you” or “I despise you” may turn an ordinary argument into a beginning of an end. Minding your words in emotions is always crucial in a relationship.
6. Avoid saying ‘never’ and ‘always’
as well as other extreme words. They are rarely true and, in fact, are usually used to express our opninions while we’re emotional. They don’t leave any space for negotiation and problem solving.
7. Say ‘we’
It shows that you are concerned about both of you and the whole family. If you divide and say “You do this” and “I do that”, it places both of you at two ends of the discussion. If you say “we do this together”, it shows that you count on solving the problem and reaching an agreement.
8. Clarify ambiguity
Not communicating your needs and expecting the other person to figure out what you actually want may be tempting, but isn’t very efficient. Accept that they just don’t know it unless you tell them. Don’t expect them to do stuff (like put dirty socks to the basket, wash up after dinner or take you to the cinema once a week) unless you tell them. Just tell them.
9. Admit to being wrong
The art of arguing is to some extent the art of compromise. Both sides might need to make some concessions so that an agreement is reached. What is more, while seeing things only from our perspective, we might not see the whole picture. There is nothing wrong in lacking some information. There is nothing wrong in not knowing something. However, when you find out that information, make sure to adapt to it.
Once I had an argument with my husband about housework. I asked him how often he actually did certain things and it turned out that he e.g. washed the bathtub more often than I did, since he bathed our toddler. I was surprised and I acknowledged that he actually did his part.
10. Accept their point of view
As I said, you might not be able to see the whole picture. An argument is a dialog (sometimes quite emotional, but still) where two sides share their points of view. It can only be successful if both people (that means you, too) accept the other’s perspective. This is the first step to reaching an agreement.
All things considered, in order to argue wisely, you need to have a clear goal in mind and respect the other person. That goal should not be making him or her feel bad, but rather achieving an agreement. I hope these tips will help you at least a bit. Whether you have difficulties or successes in arguing with your partner or perhaps with you parent or child, please, share your story in the comments.