Sometimes we start with a simple conversation or exchange of ideas and suddenly find ourselves entrenched in an endless argument that seems to go nowhere and just continues to escalate.
Often the strategies we use to stop an argument only get us further entangled in it.
These arguments in relationships can end up hurting them and derailing us emotionally for a while. So, how to end a fight, and what is the best way to end an argument?
This article provides insight into 3 simple steps to stop an argument quickly.
1. Take responsibility
Own what part is yours. It takes 2 to tango. In order for an argument to occur, both parties need to contribute to it.
Similarly, to stop an argument, each must own up for what you have contributed.
You can have a relationship, or you can be right, you have to choose which is most important to you.
We have to have humility and honesty to recognize that no one handles an interaction perfectly.
Maybe we had an accusatory tone or an accusatory rebuttal, or we came back with our point so quickly that it shut the other person down, or we were quick to defend ourselves rather than listen.
Taking ownership is realizing that our actions and our words have an impact on another.
It doesn’t mean we intended to hurt or upset the person, but realizing that no matter our intent, we hurt them, we impacted them.
It is also empowering to take ownership because it helps you realize you are in control of your words and behaviors. You are in control of the role you play. And we can change the things we are in control of.
So to stop an argument instead of trying to blame, control, or change the other person, take responsibility for your behavior, your words, and the way you contributed to the cycle, dynamic, and argument.
Apologizing is showing remorse for the way something you said or did hurt or upset someone.
Apologies are hard because they are vulnerable. We don’t like to apologize because we don’t want to seem like we are wrong or at fault.
We can also feel like we are opening ourselves up to an attack.
And sometimes the other person does not respond the way we hope, but you will still find the argument will de-escalate because it’s much harder to be angry and outraged when the other person is being humble and apologizing.
When you apologize, it is important not to say, “I’m sorry you feel ‘x.’” That ends up communicating, “I’m sorry you have a problem,” rather than taking ownership of ourselves.
Being specific is important; it communicates you understand what they are feeling and communicates the sincerity of the apology.
It’s also important that when you apologize, you don’t do the “I’m sorry, but…” set up.
That’s where you apologize, but then immediately give an excuse for why you said or acted the way you did. That just completely undoes the apology and continues the argument.
Empathy means to feel with someone; actually, it means to “feel into.”
Put yourself in another person’s shoes and try to imagine what they might be feeling.
Then try to articulate back to them their point, what they are trying to say, and what they might be feeling.
It doesn’t mean you agree or see things their way; it just means you can imagine and understand.
In order to empathize, it is important first to listen and make sure you really understand their perspective, what they are hurt or upset about, and what is important to them.
Sometimes you will need to ask for clarification by saying, “Could you tell me more?” or “Can you help me understand this part?”
Then it is important to connect with the way they might be feeling and reflect that back that by saying something like, “I can imagine how you might feel that way, or “I see what you are saying,” or “You feel this way or think this because of ‘x.’”
At the root of most arguments are two people trying desperately to be heard and understood by the other.
We want to be heard and understood so badly it makes it difficult actually to listen and understand the other person.
We get more caught up in developing our argument or coming up with our rebuttal that we don’t pause actually to hear what the other person is saying.
If you pause and really listen to what the person is saying, put yourself in their shoes, and reflect back to them that you understand, can see their point, or just acknowledge that maybe you haven’t looked at it that way before, it goes a long way.
Empathy is such a powerful tool of connection and de-escalation. And again, empathy isn’t about agreeing with someone, but rather it’s about caring and respecting another enough to try to understand their view or feeling.
So the next time you can feel things escalating into an argument, try these steps, and you will be surprised how quickly the conversation can turn for the better.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
I work with couples, families and individuals. I believe that everyone that comes to therapy is unique and brings in different strengths, goals, and perspectives. I do not believe in a "one size fits all" approach, but rather tailor my approach to each client. I meet each person with empathy, acceptance and directness. I believe in being an active participant in the therapy process and will strive to understand you but also find it important to be honest and challenge you when appropriate.
I am especially drawn to working with couples who have lost their connection and need to rekindle their romance, parenting issues, and high conflict couples. I also work with individuals with sports/academic performance, issues around self-esteem and shame, and identity.
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and also have a certificate in psychodynamic/psychoanalytic therapy. I also have an extensive background as a dancer and a competitive athlete that gives me a distinct perspective in my work.