How to Argue Well and Turn Conflicts Into Opportunities

Desiree Peralta

Let’s use this inevitable process to our advantage by Minervastudio from Pexels

Many people think that arguing is the principal reason people break up.

But it’s not like that.

It is not the number of conflicts, but how we behave during them. Sometimes the emotions dominate us and we use accusatory language. We lose our nerves and say things without thinking that we later regret.

That is why it is extremely important to learn to resolve conflicts without hurting ourselves. It may not be possible to agree at that moment, but at least let’s not compromise the future of a relationship.

At the workplace level, many people also believe that arguing with the boss about a disagreement can get you fired. But this statement is incorrect.

Well-done discussions and conflict resolution at work can even help you grow.

The problem is not what we do; the problem is always how we do it.

In a discussion of opinions, your initial aim should be the same: not to make the situation worse. And then try to come to an agreement.

For this reason, in this article, I will show you how you can argue well and turn conflicts into opportunities.

3 guidelines to stop the need to speak and attack

The first thing to keep in mind when you are arguing is not to let your emotions influence what we want to discuss.

I know this is one of the most difficult things to control when we want to express our feelings and try to be right. But knowing how to control it will help us get better results.

For this, I use the next guidelines to stop the “necessity” to attack the other person and control my emotions:

Lower your activation level

On a psychological level, the activation level is determined by self-confidence, motivation, and stress.

There are two types of activation: negative and positive. The negative is caused by uncertainty, frustration, fear of failure, or dissatisfaction. The positive can be caused by the motivation to achieve the desired challenge.

We can differentiate them by the feeling it causes us, the feedback we receive, and the evaluation and assessment we make of it.

When your activation level is very high, it will be impossible for you to think clearly, so I recommend that before speaking and saying anything that you may regret, you use an activation control technique to dissipate the emotional cloud a bit.

Before speaking, ask yourself why

Before saying anything, ask yourself: Why am I going to say this? Will it help me to the goal I intend to achieve?

If you do not find a convincing answer or if what you are going to say will not help you achieve the aim you intend to achieve, it is better that you remain silent until you think of another more appropriate phrase that can be accommodated within a constructive discussion.

Something that helped me a lot is to think if what I’m going to say is worth it to the final resolution.

Pay attention to your body sensations

We are usually more used to paying attention to what is happening around us than to what is happening within ourselves.

However, in order to learn to know ourselves and self-regulate, it is important that we pay attention to what is happening under our skin. To curb that urge to speak compulsively, it is important that you observe your emotional manifestations on a physical level.

Are you feeling some unpleasant sensations? Does your heart race? Are your muscles tensing?

Being aware of it will make you learn to detect when your emotions dominate you so you can relieve them.

5 keys to discuss better and turn conflicts into opportunities.

However, it is not enough to not counterattack.

If an argument has arisen, it is because there is a difference of interests or opinions between two or more people that has to be resolved so that this relationship does not deteriorate.

So let’s see some guidelines to increase the probability of turning that discussion into an opportunity to improve that relationship.

1. Remember your goal.

The aim of a discussion is not to be right, to be above the other, or to see who wins.

The objective of the discussion should be to reach an agreement or a common point with the other person.

Every time you detect that you are moving away from that objective, return to it. No matter who is more or less right, the important thing is to reach an agreement. Remember it.

I also recommend you ignore any type of reproach or comment from the other person who deviates from that objective and redirect it with a simple “I do not want to argue, I think the important thing is that we solve this and reach an agreement” or “I understand that you are upset but I think we have to find a solution”.

It is very important that you do not enter the vicious circle of reproaches and therefore in the competition with the other. An argument is not a competition but teamwork in which the two of you end up winning.

This has helped me a lot not to create conflicts or speak badly to another person when my main objective is specifically to resolve a situation.

2. Speak from you, not from the other.

When you want to say to someone you felt bad about his behavior, always speak from yourself, give what you felt and not from the field of the other’s intentions.

For example: “I have felt displaced or disappointed,” and not “Your attitude or you have made me feel this way”.

This strategy will increase your chances of success for two reasons:

  • The ego of the other will feel less attacked, so his response will be less aggressive.
  • That you have felt bad is not debatable. The other person may not have had bad intentions and everything was on your mind. But the truth is that you have felt bad.

If you do not accuse or seek guilty and simply express your feelings in a certain situation, you have a much better chance of winning.

At work, this has helped me that projects that have not been completed correctly because of others do not affect my performance.

For example, one time at work my team couldn’t complete something that was urgent by a specific date.

Instead of complaining that my partners did not do something, and that was why the issue was not resolved, I explained the reasons I personally could not complete my part, and thanks to that they realized that it was not because of me.

3. Don’t change the subject until the first one is clear.

One of the biggest mistakes when discussing it is by mixing various topics together.

This problem is one of the principal reasons most problems cannot be clearly solved, both at work and in a relationship. And understanding that a discussion is to just solve a problem will help us stop fighting without sense.

Remember that your goal is to reach a conclusion on an issue, not to look for reasons to keep fighting or to show someone that it is not enough.

For this reason, something that I like a lot when I want to discuss something specific with a person is to start the talk by clearly saying my purpose.

For example, if you don’t like that your partner throws the clothes on the floor even though you have already told him several times not to do it, you cannot start the discussion by saying:

I’m tired of you always doing the same thing, I have told you many times not to throw your clothes on the floor, you never listen to me, so it happens with dirty glasses on the table.

Instead, specify your purpose clear from the beginning, and try to solve just one issue. This will help the conversation focus on finding a solution instead of fights for a lot of things, for example:

The purpose of this conversation is to find a solution to why you always throw your clothes on the floor, it is something that bothers me a lot and I would like us to reach an agreement”.

4. Choose the right moment.

It is very important that when you want to discuss a topic with someone; you choose the right place and time.

Imagine that you want to express something to your partner you know could lead to debate.

How do you think you are most likely to get excellent results? If you tell him as he arrives tired from a long day at work or if you invite him to dinner and raise the subject in a relaxed way over dinner?

It is also important that you avoid arguing when you are upset, if you are negative at that moment it will be quite difficult for you to say logical things.

Therefore, if you see that the discussion is getting out of hand, it is best to leave it for another time, claiming a simple “I think it is better if we talk about this later, now I am furious and I am in no condition to speak”.

If the other person insists, you can repeat the phrase as many times as necessary and even physically leave the place until your activation level has dropped.

Last year I wanted to ask my boss for a raise, but I knew we were having a hard time delivering assignments.

I spent the entire month trying to solve all the difficulties that I could. One day my boss expressed that he was happy that everything was being solved on time. That was my perfect moment to tell him why I wanted a raise.

5. Prepare your arguments in advance, so you will always have an answer.

Has it ever happened to you that after a fight you think a lot of ideas that you could have said in your favor? This happens because we don’t analyze before starting a discussion.

Analyzing the possible answers before starting a discussion prepares us to clarify all our doubts about what bothers us.

In addition, it also helps us to be as precise as possible when we want to achieve something.

For example, when I asked for the raise, I didn’t just work to have all the tasks ready for that moment. I also wrote and prepare all the reasons I deserved it and the accomplishments I had made throughout the year.

This helped me that if the boss was not so convinced, I had more arguments to affirm that if I deserved it.

At the scientific level, preparing before a discussion is used when we want to present a theory that we know is true, through debate. This helps the author of that idea to have valid arguments and convince a group.

The advantages I have had thanks to preparing myself before a discussion has been:

  • Do not argue about things that are not worth it. Now I know what really deserves to have a conversation because I analyzed all the situations.
  • Putting myself in my partner’s shoes before starting the discussion, in order to choose the correct words properly.
  • Be ready for any answer to what I want to convince. Now my opinion is stronger.
  • Currently, I no longer argue without reason. I do it as long as I am going to improve something around me.

Final thoughts

I think one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you is never to take discussions personally. If someone tells you that something is bothering them, it is because they want to solve it, not because they want to attack you.

Someone who doesn’t care what you do wouldn’t bother to tell you to improve.

When we use arguments to improve our environment, whether to get a raise or be at peace with our family, then we are turning those conflicts in our favor.

Understand that we should not argue just for the pleasure of doing it, but with a clear purpose of reaching an agreement, will avoid many bad moments.

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Turning ideas into reality. Programmer by profession, Writer by passion. Writing, productivity, and self-development advice.

Yonkers, NY

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