How to Stop an Argument

It’s a good feeling when people agree with us.

When the person we are talking to is nodding their head and confirming our opinions and ideas, our likes and dislikes.

Yes, to that decision.

No, to that idea and political party.

Yup, to our excitingly good idea.

Definitely vanilla over chocolate.

Problem is, not everyone agrees with us. Not everyone thinks our way is the right way. The better way. Or even the only way.

And because we often think our way is the better way, even the right way, we get into trouble when people don’t agree with us.

No matter who we are, how smart we are, or how knowledgeable we are, sometimes our superior intellect and ideas will be cast aside in favor of their own ideas and opinions. And that is not a good feeling. So, we fight and claw to express our ideas and opinions in a slightly different manner. Or a louder manner. Or a more animated manner, thinking the person has obviously misheard us. We know deep down that if we can just get our idea or opinion out there and heard by this other person (who obviously needs their ears cleaned because they seem not to be hearing a word we say), our sound logic or brilliant idea will blow them away and they will gladly see the logic of joining our side.

But the other person only gets louder and more insistent and by now, the conversation has become them and us. Side one and two. And we all know which side is the best side. Our side, of course. And before we know it, our discussion is no longer a conversation, but an disagreement. Maybe even an argument.

We are on opposite sides now. And if we are not careful, we set in our heels, erect a shield, and start in earnest to win this conversation that has now turned into a battle of right and wrong. Winner and loser.

Now in no way am I saying it is wrong to have ideas and opinions. Or to state them kindly and respectfully.

We have ideas and opinions for just about everything under the sun. From which is the best underwear to buy, to who to vote for. From which floor plan is the best, to how to wash a car. From how to raise a child, to which ice cream flavor is best.

We have likes and dislikes. Biases and irritations. Know how and what we think we know. Inclinations and definites.  Opinions and ideas. Beliefs and life rules. Common sense and nonsense.

We often know what we think and we want to tell others our opinions.

And that is not a bad thing.

It’s just that sometimes we go about it in the wrong manner and hurt our self. Hurt others. Or dig ourselves into a hole it is hard to extricate our self from.

Falling into an argument can be so easy. So subtle.

We like to play “Would You Rather?” at our house. It’s a board game that asks two questions. Would you rather do this or that? And you have to choose A or B. And sometimes both answers are equally bad. “Would you rather be in a pit filled with snakes? Or a pit filled with fire ants?”

I am sure you can see the fun and torment this game can provide.

Here, you choose one. Would you rather, A). have a head half your current size for the rest of your life, or B). Your arm twice as long as it currently is for the rest of your life?

Well my son loves making up his own, Would You Rather Questions. And he can snap them off one after another. So sometimes we will be riding in the car or taking a walk and off he fires. Would I rather . . . ?

Now often we agree on what we would rather choose. Sometimes we don’t agree and one of us will explain why we picked this torment over the other equally bad choice, and the other comes around to our choice. And sometimes, well . . . we disagree. And there we are both trying to convince the other why our choice is better.

The problem is we become vested in our choice, especially the more we try to convince the other. I mean being stuck in a pit with snakes is better then fire ants, especially if you have ever been bit by fire ants. And I have. And those little bites turned into angry red welts and didn’t disappear from my delicate skin for three weeks. And talk about itch. Well, let’s not even think about that.

And if we are not careful, we sometimes find our self almost in an argument. And all about snakes and fire ants and being stuck in a pit. I mean, we are getting heated about something that I am sure will never even happen. At least I hope so.

And that is how quickly an argument can start.

So how can we stop an argument?

It’s simple.

We can agree to disagree.

Yup! It’s that simple.

One of us can say, “Well, I see that we can’t agree on which pit to be in—the snake or fire ants–, so let’s agree to disagree.”

Often we laugh and move onto the next question.

“Would you rather have two noses and one ear, or two ears and no nose?”

If we agree to disagree, we are both winners. Both our opinions are seen as valid. One is not better than the other. And we both exit in good moods and neither one feels beaten up or the loser.

If we continue battling it out, most likely we will both dig our heals in and defend our answer to the end. And the more we defend our answer, the more we feel it is the right answer. As the argument escalates, we feel like the rejection of our idea is a rejection of us as a person. And often the argument continues with one person feeling like a winner and the other a loser. And when that happens, the relationship loses.

Let me say that again. The relationship loses during an argument. The good feelings between the two people are gone. Instead of bonding and love between the two, now there is distance and anger. What loses in an argument when one person is the winner and one is the loser, is always the relationship.

I don’t know about you, but most people don’t change their minds very easily about religion, politics, and life values. Especially during an argument.

So save the relationship. Agree to disagree. It’s as simple as that.

If you are agreeing to disagree about something that action needs to be taken on. Well, now that you have agreed to disagree, it is now time to compromise. Because compromising puts the relationship above your own opinions and ideas. Compromising is communicating that both of you have a say in this. And both are willing to give a little.

Let’s say you really do want to change the other person’s mind.

When you find yourself getting vested in the conversation and trying to promote your idea or opinion and convince someone of your viewpoint, a much better way to try and change someone’s idea or opinion is to really listen to their viewpoint and ask them questions about their viewpoint. Seeking to understand where they are coming from and why they think the way they do, helps you better understand them. It also helps them see their viewpoint a little differently.

Understanding each other’s viewpoint builds a relationship. Creates understanding. And who knows, one of you may even change your viewpoint. But it won’t be because someone argued you into changing. It will be because someone took the time to calmly listen to you and discuss the subject.

We all have opinions, dearly held ideas, and viewpoints on just about everything. So when we find ourselves in the midst of disagreeing, let’s put the relationship over our need to be right and just agree to disagree.

We don’t need to convince the other person our idea, answer, or opinion is the best one since the invention of the automobile.

We don’t need to associate a rejection of our idea or opinion with a rejection of us. Because it is not.

But we do want to promote the relationship and communicate with love and kindness.

So, just agree to disagree and move onto the next topic.

I hear the weather is a pretty harmless one.

 

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 

Join the Discussion: How do you keep from arguing? 

 

About the author : Theresa Boedeker

Theresa Boedeker

Theresa Boedeker, a lover of life and grace, likes to write about this crazy, messy, and wonderful adventure called life. She unwraps life with words to encourage, provide hope, and bring froth laughter. Her blog, Things to Remember, and entertaining story podcast, Life as it Comes, can be found at TheresaBoedeker.com.

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