How to Stop an Argument in its Tracks

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We’ve all had points where we found ourselves in arguments with the people we love. Sometimes, in the middle of a fight, especially those with friends or significant others, it seems like the relationship is about to crash and burn. But sometimes a fight is so far along that it seems impossible to end it well or to end it at all. However, if you are proactive and you’re serious about making things work out, then there are a few things you can do to defuse the situation.

  1. Determine whether the relationship is worth more than being right. If the answer is yes, consider that consciously. If you want someone to stay involved in your life, you will have to forgive that person
  2. Stop defining the ways the other person is wrong. They may well be wrong, and they might still not understand. But trying to persuade them of their errors when you’re still both angry? That usually doesn’t end in agreement.
  3. Admit where you’re wrong. Do this without qualifying, and don’t justify what caused you to do wrong, such as “I yelled because you made me angry.” Keep it about you and be honest about where your fault lies.
  4. Apologize. Once more, don’t make it about what the other person did. Just apologize for everything you did wrong. If you’re in a heated argument, you probably did something. It’s important not to let the apology re-invite anger. You are addressing your own behavior.
  5. Ask how you can avoid the same issue in the future. Don’t do this sarcastically or accusingly. Focus on positive, mutual action. What can you and the other person do to handle this conflict constructively in the future, or avoid similar issues? Don’t jump to accusations, or simply come up with ways for the other person to improve. This is supposed to be a two-sided discussion.
  6. Don’t bring it up again. A new disagreement is a new disagreement. Avoid bringing the past in–forgiveness forgets.

I'm a lover of words in all forms, sweatshirts in all conditions, and God in all circumstances. I particularly enjoy working collaboratively on the written word and wearing microfiber robes (preferably at the same time). Most of the time I don't get enough sleep, but I make a valiant effort.

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