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Do You Know How to Argue?

April 23, 2008

It’s inevitable that at some point we don’t always agree with our partner and we will find ourselves arguing about one thing or another. I’ve never met anyone who’s never disagreed with their partner about something, including myself. The problem is few of us actually know how to argue effectively.

Being able to argue effectively doesn’t mean you proved your point or “won” the argument. It means that you are able to turn the argument into a discussion and find a solution in a civilized manner.

Below are a few tips in arguing effectively:

Avoid assigning blame: Saying “You never listen to me!” is a lot harsher than “I don’t feel like I’m being listened to.” When you blame someone, they often automatically start feeling defensive. By objectively stating your feelings, it is more likely they will respond in a calmer tone.

Affirm your partners feelings: Show your partner that you are listening and understanding by repeating what they say to you back to them. “I understand you feel like you are not listened to.”

Refrain from name calling: Saying things like “You’re such a jerk” isn’t very effective in communicating your feelings. Unfortunately it’s easy to blurt some of these things out in the heat of an argument.

Remember body language: You can say a lot with your eyes, your hands, or your legs without realizing it. Try not to cross your arms or seem distracted while you and your partner are trying to discuss an issue.

Learn to Control Your Anger: Throwing something across the room or punching the wall is not going to make the situation any better. It’s going to just make your partner more angry and you stuck with having to fix or clean something up afterwards.

Stop trying to prove you are right: You won’t get anywhere if you continually go on about how right you are and how wrong your partner is. Instead listen to how they feel and say “I can see how you would feel that way”.

Admit it when you’re wrong: It’s okay to mess up once in awhile, we all do. But when you do it, it’s important to accept responsibility for your actions and apologize.

Don’t bring up past issues: So you might be mad about something your partner did yesterday, there’s no need to bring up what he or she did that was so horrible 6 months or 4 years ago. It will just make matters worse.

Don’t sweat the small things: Look at your argument in the big scheme of life and chances are it’s really not that big of an issue. If it’s not anything major, it might be best to just let it go and learn to accept the issue as just another quirky flaw you can add onto your list of things you love about your partner.

Take a Break: If things are getting overheated or you feel yourself losing control, take a break. Go for a walk or take a bubble bath for a half an hour to let off some steam. When you are both calmer it will be easier to come up with a solution. It’s also okay to go to bed without a resolution. Kiss your partner on the cheek and tell him or her we’ll figure this out tomorrow after we both get some much needed sleep.

It takes a lot of practice to get these techniques down pat. It’s not easy to change your arguing habits overnight. By starting to make these little changes, you’ll notice yourselves arguing less and less and enjoying each other more and more.

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