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Who doesn’t want to avoid arguments? Unfortunately, it is an inevitable part of our lives. And when everytime we do get into an argument, we often resort to being rude- shouting at the other person, name calling, bad mouthing, silent treatment and what not. We might win the argument but, in case of arguing with our family, friends or coworkers, it might harm our relationship with the other. And according to a Forbes report, it can increase our chances of early death!
“If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s goodwill.”- Dale Carnegie
I recall back in 2015 about an argument I had with a teammate while preparing for a competition. Although we won in the competition (it was a first win for both of us), she decided not to be on the same team anymore. I came to know that she felt I was being rude during the argument and didn’t listen to her properly. Hence, arguments, though unavoidable, when toxic, can cause your relationship to deteriorate.
So how can we deal with such arguments without being rude? This article provides some tips on how to approach your next argument and win it without any rudeness everytime.
(P.S. Here by “opponent”, I mean the person whom you’re arguing with. Please don’t consider him/her your opponent in real life even when you are arguing.)
Delay your response by 5 seconds
In an argument, you are “attacked” for whatever you believe in or your actions, right? It becomes natural for you to defend yourself. In such cases of perceived threats, your body activates its “fight or flight” response. You enter into this “attack mode”, become emotional and bypass your rational thought. Plus, your heartbeat increases and you get this huge amount of energy. So, you might be tempted to commit aggressive actions like shouting at the person or worse, hit them.
You definitely don’t want to commit such actions, right? What you can do is to delay your response by 5 seconds. Why five seconds? It has to do with the five second rule.
So, what is the five second rule? It is a rule developed by motivation coach Mel Robbins. According to her, after five second of any impulse (say an urge to start working on a project), the rational part of brain ticks in. As a result, your emotional responses fade out and you are less likely to work on that urge. This rule was developed by her to avoid procrastination (i.e you should get to work within 5 second of your urges).
In your case, when in an argument, your opponent blames you or berates you, wait for five seconds. Your “fight or flight” response will wear off and you will be able to think clearly. As a result, you will be more likely to avoid aggressive and rude behaviors.
Understand your “opponent”
When we argue, we try our level best to uphold our case. We know we are right. So any allegation from the opponent means he/she is wrong. Plus, we won’t take a second to make him/her correct their fault.
But consider it from the opponent’s perspective. He/she will also do whatever we are doing. Chances are high that he/she won’t let you talk until his/her case is finished. And even if you interrupt in between, he/she won’t pay much attention to you while he/she has more to express.
In such cases, the best thing is to keep quiet and understand your opponent. Try to listen to your opponent and understand him/her. Ask yourself, “What if I was in his/her shoes?” By understanding your opponent, you might find that both of you have much more in common than not. And listening to your opponent will make him/her feel that you are respecting and even considering his/her opinion. He/she will also try to understand you as well.
“When one yell, the other should listen- because when two people yell, there is no communication, just noise and bad vibrations.” – Jan Peerce
Begin in a friendly tone
After you delay your initial response and try to understand your opponent, you can raise your voice and start talking. But you should begin in a friendly way instead of being accusing and forceful.
Why being friendly? Do you remember one of Aesop’s fables about the Sun and the wind. Both challenged each other to take off the hat and coat of a passerby. The wind tried with all its force to remove the hat and the coat. It was able to remove the hat but the passerby held to his coat tightly. The sun just shone brightly. As a result, the passerby willingly took off his hat and his coat.
So how does everything relate? If you are to forced to do something unwillingly, chances are that you won’t do the thing. But if you have the interest, there will be no power stopping you. So if you start off in a friendly manner, your opponent will take an interest in you. He/she will take the conversation more as an agreement rather than an argument. He/she will perceive that you are not coercing him/her to your side. And he/she will receive your words more positively
“We are interested in others when they are interested in us.”- Publilius Syrus
So try starting off by stating the areas where you both are in common. Appreciate his/her stance on the issue. Don’t bad mouth or lose your temper. State everything in a cool and calm manner.
Admit you are wrong
This is the most painful part but it is sometimes important to accept you are wrong. Yes, you might not always be right. Sometimes, we might be wrong. And that’s okay. Accepting your errors is not a sign of weakness but that of strength. Your opponent will more likely to soften his stance seeing your admission of mistake. He/she might also find fallacies in his/her argument as well. And both can end the argument in a peaceful manner rather than in a vitriolic way.
Moreover, if you persist in arguing knowing you are wrong, you are going to feel guilty. Acceptance of your mistake will remove your guilt. So don’t be afraid to accept your mistake.
This is how you can approach arguments and win them without being rude. So next time you argue, try out these steps and see if you can resolve an argument non-violently. And do let me know which one was your favorite. Happy arguing non-violently!
This article’s audiobook is read by Rafsan Lazim.
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