Arguments can be difficult and painful. But most of all they can get counterproductive very very easily. There’s a lot to be said for discussions and opposing views for moving things forward or coming up with newer and better ideas or solutions. But if the discussion and difference of opinion derails into an argument, very quickly and very easily all one is left with are bruised egos, hurt feelings and unresolved issues.
One of the main reasons arguments can quickly snowball into unmanageable territory is the feedback loop they create – instead of focussing on the essence of the discussion, we start reacting to the person, their physical cues like raised voices, or flushed faces. Our bodies unconsciously mimic these signals and our mind shifts from the actual issue to invalidating the other person. This in turn amplifies the animosity of the other person and things escalate in a jiffy.
The only way around is de-escalation. As difficult as it might be, when caught in an argument that is getting too heated, disengage yourself briefly. Give yourself and the other person a chance to breathe. Remind yourself that the goal is to find the best resolution and not running down the other person or proving them wrong. In fact many a times, the reason for the escalation of the argument could be your subconscious cues that suggesting you don’t respect or value the other person’s views and opinions.
Once the other person senses that you are not negating their perspective, the nature of the conflict will change immediately. It will become a productive exchange of ideas that allow for a more well rounded view of the issue.
Language can be your best friend or your worst enemy in a heated argument, so be very conscious of the words coming out of your mouth. Accept and acknowledge that it is possible for you to have differing views or approaches to something. Repeat the argument they have put forth to show that you have understood their point. Use the opportunity to determine that you have understood them correctly. Only then state your views on the subject. This will help refocus on what really matters rather than who is saying what and how.
This is not an easy thing to do. It is easier to just get caught in the flow of the moment and give in to one’s instinct of reacting to the person rather than the substance of their debate. But remember, the price of doing so is far higher than taking the moment to refocus and take a step back in order to work towards a mutually agreeable solution.