How to go from arguments to effective conversations

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It’s very easy to get into an argument! There is a certain satisfaction in stating your position and trying to convince the other person (or group of persons) that you are right.

But here are the facts. When you are having a heated discussion about an issue, one of three things could be happening:

  1. One of you is wrong. At the moment, each of you are sure that the other person is the one who’s wrong. 

  2. Neither of you is wrong. You’re arguing about something where right and wrong are relative, based on perspective. Or, perhaps… shockingly. . .

  3. You’re both wrong!

The thing is, your certainty of rightness is what makes heated arguments heated. Given how unlikely it is that you’re always right and they’re always wrong, the heated part of the conversation is probably worth avoiding.

Before you can begin to work on what you disagree about, you each needs to work on the ‘heated’ part. In other words, you need to work on opening your minds and trying a different way of talking. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Talk first about what you want to accomplish at the end of the conversation. What you both agree is the objective of having this conversation.

  2. If your are trying to problem-solve, brainstorm together about solutions, instead of each being convinced that your solution is the only “right” one. You might discover that together you might come up with a much more creative and practical solution than either of you had thought of before.

  3. Instead of using “but”, try saying “yes, and. . .” That will help you keep a more open mind.

  4. If you can’t come to any agreements, and can afford it, let it rest for awhile and then come back to it.

  5. Don’t interrupt!

  6. Listen attentively to what the other is saying without thinking immediately on how to refute the point. Force yourself to listen with your eyes, ears, mind, and heart.

    Here is an easy way to remember the main differences between an argument or discussion and a conversation that is based on an open dialogue:

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Remember. . .

Arguments fuel conflict while effective conversations bring understanding and collaboration. Next time you are tempted to have an argument, try some of the above suggestions and see what happens. 

If you are interested in more suggestions for dialogue, you can ask for my FREE infographic: “Effective Communication Guidelines”