Mellowing an Argument Before It Begins

words & photo by Brian Thompson.

Arguments can often appear out of nowhere.

Without any warning, an unexpected explosion of emotions can occur anywhere, and if you’re not careful you might be stuck in the middle of a full-fledged war of words.

It’s all too easy to get swept away by your emotions, to defend yourself and then go on the attack. But such a tactic solves nothing. It only deepens the resolve of the other verbal combatant, forcing them to dig in their heals even deeper.

If you react in such a way, all reasoning disappears — feelings get hurt and nothing gets resolved.

Instead, mellow an argument before it begins. Remember that it takes two to fight. So instead, turn the argument into a conversation. Turn it into a win-win exchange where both people walk away feeling both respected and heard.

Respond, don't react.

Be patient and thoughtful in all of your responses, don’t just mindlessly react. Bite your tongue and give pause. Give proper consideration before you reply to anything in defensive anger or haste.

Take a deep breath and observe your feelings first. What do you see?

No matter how heated an exchange might initially begin, remember that every situation will cool down as long as you don’t compete with their emotional intensity.

Breathe and be calm.

Don’t take anything that’s being said personally. Their feelings and opinions are just as valid as yours — let them speak. Let them vent. Understand that hurtful things were only said out of frustration, they don’t reflect the truth.

Before you take any action, mindfully consider the following questions first.

Are you feeling defensive? Why might that be? Has a touchy truth possibly been raised that's tough to accept and admit?

Are you hearing the other person’s position? Are you truly understanding what is being said?

How can you best acknowledge the other person's point of view?

Refrain from sarcasm. Resist passive aggressive comments that will only poke, prod and infuriate the other person further. Abstain from retaliating or getting even through a vengeful outburst.

What is the most desirable outcome to this exchange?

Be mindful — breathe, listen and consider.

Be empathetic to the other person’s perspective — validate it. Be compassionate and forgiving.

Accept your mistakes, without any excuses.

Respond mindfully, don’t react.

Don’t get bent on being defensive — problem solve, with respect.