According to the Cambridge dictionary to argue means, “to disagree especially strongly and sometimes angrily in talking or discussing something.” If you read my article, “Are You Listening?” you might be noticing how well you really listen to others when they speak. Hopefully, you are practicing some of the insider tips in how to be an effective listener and speaker. Be aware when trying to make self-improvements, it’s easier to practice new skills when you’re not under pressure. This prepares you to be ready and avoid a meltdown when things get heated.
If you are becoming aware of your own skills as well as becoming a calm and effective communicator, you’ll be able to see when someone else can benefit from the same awareness and skills. With such clarity and confidence you’ll see when someone approaches you in an argumentative manner as an opportunity to discover how he/she is thinking and feeling. This may be true especially when you are being approached by a close friend or loved one who rarely expresses his/her thoughts and feelings.
You may want to disagree strongly or argue with me right now and say that arguing is useless time spent exerting too much energy without any positive outcomes. I would empathically listen to your opinion realizing that this may have been the majority of your experience. If this is your experience, it’s your perception therefore your reality. I would add that if you improve your ability to listen you will see that there is a message and a meaning to be heard when someone strongly expresses himself/herself. Of course under these conditions, what is said and how it is said might not be your first choice! However, you can still get to the bottom line or at least get some more information to the heart of how someone is feeling and thinking if you really listen to the message behind the argument.
Here are several ways to make arguing a productive means of communication:
2-Identify the root cause of the problem
3-Emphasize with how the person is feeling
4-Try not to interrupt
5-Let the person know if you understand the problem
6-Calmly choose neutral, non-argumentative words to express what you are thinking
7- Offer a solution based on benefits for all involved
8-If necessary, allow time for both of you to reflect
9-Avoid comparing the other person’s ability to listen and remain calm
Being calm especially during emotionally charged times is not easy. Be proud of yourself and recognize your efforts to keep the argument productive. While giving yourself much deserved credit, remember it’s hard work and a process in which you decided to improve in. Whereas, the other person may not have. Therefore, continue with listening even if you feel the other person is not as insightful. It will be up to you to model calm and productive communication. In the end, you’ll be happy you did!
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