In most arguments that people tell me about, they think that they are right and the other person is wrong. This makes it really difficult to solve any type of argument. Almost nobody ever thinks they are wrong. So if both people think they are right, then how can they come to a resolution?
From my experience, resolving arguments requires a few things:
1. Being able to see the other person’s perspective without any judgment.
What is their experience? What are they thinking and feeling? What do they need? What are they afraid of? In order to get these answers, we have to let the other person explain without interruption or becoming defensive.
2. Not taking anything personally, even if it feels that way.
Nothing other people do or say is because of us. Each person acts based on their own beliefs, experience, triggers, issues, stresses, moods etc. Read more in: Stop Taking Things Personally OR Stop Thinking Everything Is About You
3. Knowing our triggers and NOT acting on them.
Often something someone else does or says really triggers us. We know it’s a trigger, if we respond in an extremely emotional way that is out of proportion. We have to work on our triggers separately (they are usually due to a past experience that we haven’t completely processed yet or a belief that we hold) So in that moment, just say that you know you are triggered and take some time to yourself. Do not respond or act in the heat of the moment – it will just escalate the situation.
4. Being compassionate.
We all do things that hurt others, too, even if we don’t intend to. We like to think of ourselves as a “good person”, so we don’t like to believe or admit to this. But when we react to a trigger, chances are that we might be in turn triggering the other person with our reaction. Realizing that we have all hurt others before – at least in someone else’s mind – allows us to be more compassionate.
5. Finding some common ground as a starting point.
There are clearly things we disagree about. So what can we agree on? We can look at the larger picture and explore until we find something that we can agree on. Based on that agreement, what next steps can we take?
The goal of an argument should not be to be right or to win – a better goal is to work together to find a mutual solution. When we get into arguments with others, we need to stop thinking that the other person is doing something intentionally to us and begin taking responsibility for not blaming, not taking it personally and not getting defensive. If instead, we can practice understanding, compassion and taking self-responsibility, we can build happier and healthier relationships.