How to argue less with your partner, loved-one, friend or colleague

What starts off as constructive discussion turns into an argument. How did that happen?

Are you noticing negative patterns emerging when you are talking? Arguments can be good because you are expressing how you feel rather than keeping feelings pent up inside but if this is happening more often and it is damaging the relationship, what can you do?

How can you stop the disagreement before the damage to the relationship causes communication to stop? My top tips for arguing less are;

Don’t argue in the first place

Easier said than done. Beware of using language that is accusing the other person of bad behaviour, statements like ‘you don’t care’ or ‘you're not listening’. This makes the other person feel they are being attacked and results in them needing to attack to defend themselves.

Try saying how you are feeling. Try ‘i feel lonely’ rather than ‘you’re never here’ or ‘you never pay attention when I talk to you’. Try ‘i feel tired’ rather than ‘you don’t help out’.

Don’t say ‘we never’, ‘you never’, ‘nothing is going to change’, ‘it is not worth it’. You might just be trying to explain how bad things are for you but it makes the other person feel attacked. Instead try ‘I feel upset,’ make your language more factual. Remember you are trying to communicate, not to argue.

Remember, you are different

You are two different people and you have two different sets of opinions. That is okay. You can love one type of music and they could hate it. If you know the other person has a completely opposite view on something, it is very unlikely they will change that opinion, so don’t provoke an argument and risk the relationship. Knowing what you disagree on is important. That does not mean that both opinions are not valid, it is just that you differ.

Take a break

Sometimes you need a time out from each other. Walk away to give both of you the space and time to calm down. This can be hard to do especially when feeling hurt.

Try saying ‘i am going to go and i need a few minutes to calm down’. You might then go for a quick walk, or just take a couple of minutes in another room to allow your anger to dissipate. You then come back and finish the discussion with a clearer head.

Play scientist

Observe what is going on, be objective. If you were replaying the argument on television what would you notice?

Could it be that you are actually angry about something else. If you were arguing about something your partner did not do. Could it be that you were angry that they ignored your wishes and they have done that before? Ask yourself what is really making you angry?

Is there something larger that is going on in the relationship which you are unhappy with? It could be there is something that you and the other person have not talked about that needs to be discussed openly.

Understanding why you feel the way you feel will help you communicate.

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