Don’t you wish you could get along with your family, friends and peers all the time? And even if you disagree, it would be about something you both can laugh off right away?
Fortunately, there are as many opinions and personalities as there are people, however, you will not always agree on everything, even with your best friend. While arguments can blow up in your face or make you feel shut down or disrespected in conflict, there are easy ways to stand your ground in a healthy way.
It’s natural to freeze up in confrontational our uncomfortable situations if you don’t have a way to deal with conflict resolution. You may find yourself nodding along in agreement, but when you step away from the conversation, you might realize that you completely disagree with the other person’s point of view. You might bitterly discover that the whole situation doesn’t sit well with you and wonder how you ended up agreeing in the first place.
This article can help you voice your opinions without fear or in spite of it. Here are five steps you can take to turn any verbal conflict into a polite debate:
Listen to Your Gut
Sometimes you find yourself in a conversation where the more you listen, the more you realize that something feels off to you. Take a moment to check in with your inner moral compass or your gut feeling. If you feel uneasy, think about what clashes with your own moral values and what you would say on the topic at hand instead. For example, would you say anything if you don’t like someone’s dress or rather, would you compliment them on something you like about them?
Of course, we can’t all agree on everything, but you should be able to voice your opinion when the other person is mean or malicious, miseducated or arrogant, or if whatever is said can influence your future in a negative way. Gossiping can cost you scholarships or valuable connections and agreeing with your misinformed peers can create country-sized problems.
Try to Understand the Other Person’s Point of View
Knowing what you stand for is amazing for character-building and can help you in many different interactions. However, it can be easy to talk over other people when you’re passionate about a topic and know your truth. Listening to others can open a window into their world, and you might learn something new—about them, the topic at hand, or even about yourself.
So, don’t abruptly interrupt the speaker when you think they are wrong. They are less likely to listen to you if you don’t let them finish their thought. It can be hard to do, especially if they are being mean. Once they’re done, ask them why they feel that way. In most cases, there is more going on beneath the surface than they let on.
Sometimes, if their rant is directed at you, the best thing is to be straightforward and ask, “why are you mean to me?” It could take them aback and make them think about the words they choose. It might also open the other person up for a deeper discussion that can prove to be meaningful for both of you.
Respectfully State Your Opinion
When you think you understand what the other person is saying, you can explain your point of view. The best way to do that is to take a deep breath to calm yourself down. It will help you formulate your thoughts and get the message across faster than raising your voice and talking with your hands. But don’t be mousy either.
Try to remember that while you don’t want to hurt the other person, your opinion is valid and equally important. You can even say, “I understand where you’re coming from, but I think…” This way you are showing the other person that your opinion is important without dismissing theirs. When you approach them in this manner, they will likely try to match your demeanour and poise.
Try to Find a Happy Medium
If the argument is about something that doesn’t have a clear right or wrong answer—most things aren’t that black and white—you can continue discussing the issue without it getting heated and uncivilized again. You can try suggesting, “you don’t have to agree with everything I’m saying, but doesn’t this [insert main point] make sense?”
You might find a happy medium or a solution that works for everyone by distilling your argument to one undeniable truth and propose that if they agree to it. They just might, and you could find some value in their point of view as well. If not, you can always come back to the conversation later, at a better time, when the “wrong-doer” is not put on the spot and they can bring down their defenses.
Remember That It’s Not About Winning
No matter where you are with your argument, remember that it’s not about winning or losing. Ultimately, you want to be heard and understood and so does the other person. Think about what you can learn from the other person or their attitude and what you can teach them. You are more than likely to see the person you are arguing with on a daily or weekly basis. Do you really want to feel bitter every time you cross paths? The world is much smaller than you might think. And if you completely destroy the other person, your “win” might feel good for a day, but will you be able to look the other person in the eye afterwards?
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to feel that our opinion is the ultimate truth. And the other people you’re conversing with might feel the same way about their point of view. The best thing is to remember that we’re all human, emotions can take over at a moment’s notice, but we don’t have to let them rule our interactions. Next time you find yourself in an argument, remember these easy steps, breathe and watch how the conversation will take a turn for the best!