Heated arguments. Is there a way?

I recently had not one – quite a few heated arguments. I must say I started to enjoy them, as I realized the benefits of consciously turning them around into constructive dialogues.

In all these discussions, we started off at completely opposite ends of the spectrum of ideas. Each of us was holding tightly to his/her point of view. None was willing to let go.

Quite the recipe for disaster, right?

Two sisters and an orange

There’s the story of two sisters who were having a fight for an orange. They both wanted the orange so much, they could not give up. After sitting back to back for a long long while, they asked their parents to decide who could have the orange. Only then did they discover that one of them wanted the orange for the peel, to use for cooking, and the other one wanted the juice, to drink.

It’s all very nice but you will seldom find that the other party in a heated argument cares for something that – what are the odds! – perfectly completes what you wanted yourself.

However, there are a few things I discovered really work.

Use them when:

- you’re asking for something and the other person says “No”, regardless of the reasons you bring to the table;
- you find yourself limited in your options in finding a solution
- you feel more and more annoyed and want to slam the door in the face of your opponent.

Instead, try some of these:

1. Respect.

Unless you have respect, you don’t have an argument. Otherwise, why would you try to convince the other person you’re right? If you don’t respect them, why would you even care in the first place? You will just take the damn orange and go to your business.

In all my experiences, I have found this is the most valuable ingredient. Consideration for the other person’s opinion, and care for the relationship really shows through, and the other person will appreciate that.

2. Trust.

With respect, follows trust. You will trust that the other person doesn’t have a hidden agenda.

In other words, if he/she says they want the orange, you don’t imagine they will want to hit you in the head with it.

3. Care for their opinion.

If you’ve exhausted all your arguments and the other person still doesn’t want to give up their point of view, ask why.

Ask “Why is this so important to you?” “Why do you think this is best?” “Why do you want the orange?”

Ask frankly, openly and candidly. Ask with respect and with trust.

4. Do not attack/throw rackets/hit behind the back.

Do not, at any moment in the argument, regardless how many flames you throw on your nose and ears, say anything close to

“But you’ve ALWAYS…”
“Yeah, you NEVER support me…”
“Of course you want that. You’ve been planning all along to…”

It attacks the other person, and will only cause defensive reactions – and then, a flaming and explosive response in their turn.

5. Honestly and purposefully look for a solution, not for yourself being RIGHT.

In the end, it’s about being gracious with the relationship, and harsh with the issue.

Ah, and from my part – all of the heated arguments were finalized with smiles. We all knew that, in the end, we were there for each other, and that we would support the decision we reached.

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