Life can be complex and challenging. At some point, you’ll inevitably encounter situations where you want one thing and someone else wants another. In such situations, wouldn’t you prefer to avoid an argument?
But how do you keep the peace without giving up what you want?
Use these strategies to avoid an argument while still gaining what’s important to you:
1. Refrain from taking offense. When you see that someone is getting “hot under the collar,” remind yourself that the situation is most likely not about you.
2. Listen and read between the lines. Although it’s important to pay attention to what the other person is saying, it’s actually more critical to understand what they’re hoping to get across.
* Consider this example: You’ve arrived late to a social event that you arranged with your neighbor. He’s upset because he didn’t know how you’d planned to handle distributing name tags. He says in a loud, irritated voice, “Why didn’t you try harder to get here on time? I got stuck with everything!”
* In this illustration, recognize your neighbor doesn’t really want to know “why” you “didn’t try harder” to arrive on time. He does, however, want you to acknowledge his feelings of distress about not knowing how to handle the situation.
3. Acknowledge the other person’s feelings. Making statements like, “I don’t blame you for feeling that way” or “I’d feel frustrated too if that happened to me.” Doing so shows you’re listening and you understand.
4. Avoid conveying strong emotions. One of the best ways to avoid an argument is to refrain from letting your own emotions run rampant over you. Just because someone else is upset doesn’t mean you have to be upset also.
* Although you might find it necessary to respond in some way, keep in mind that objectivity is your friend here. Refrain from taking the person’s emotions personally.
5. Respond rather than react. Take time to think through how you can appropriately respond in a challenging situation. If you react too quickly to the other person’s emotions and comments, you might later regret your words or actions.
* Instead, think how you can most judiciously and fairly respond, even if you believe the other person is less than tactful.
6. Use appropriate voice tone and level. After you’ve thought about your response, state it using an even voice tone and low volume. Speaking loudly can escalate a conversation into an argument.
7. Take a cooling off period. If you notice your frustration or anger levels are rising, leave the room and take 5 or 10 minutes to formulate what you want to say. Feel free to let the other person know that you need to spend a few minutes thinking about this.
* Avoid storming out of the room while showing negative emotion. Instead, take a deep breath and inform the other person you need a small break. Nip an argument in the bud by indicating you plan to step out for a few moments.
8. If you owe someone an apology, provide it. A simple apology like, “I’m sorry I was late. I didn’t mean for that to happen” might be quite helpful in avoiding an argument.
9. Offer a win-win solution. The strategies above will help you cool down the situation so that you can bring clarity of thought as well, opening the door for ideas that you can both agree on. Seek a resolution where you each get something you desire and you’ll both walk away from the situation feeling happy and satisfied.
Refraining from engaging in arguments is a realistic and achievable goal. Review the above strategies to build your skills at communicating effectively in trying situations. And next time you find yourself in a heated situation, apply these methods to avoid an argument.