How To Argue Properly

It's easy to ruin relationships, at home or at work, by getting into an argument and letting it devolve past the point of usefulness. A good argument can produce a good things, however. Here's how to have one.

Photo by Jordan Fischer

Paul Gilbert, writing for Psychology Today, examines some advice on arguing from psychologist Dr. Anthony Wolf. Wolf recommends the following, practical suggestions:

  • Be polite and don't let your argument include any bickering, sniping or anything malicious. Remember that it's about resolving a disagreement, not hurting the other party (or parties).
  • Stay on topic. Remember what you're arguing about and don't move on to other topics just because your emotions are running higher than usual.
  • Remember that it's more important to diffuse the tension than resolve an argument. Many arguments can just be let go because they're not important. Don't struggle to always get the last word in.

As we've noted, it's very easy to turn into an asshole and cause yourself a wealth of problems. Try to keep a cool head when arguing and you'll find yourself much more successful. The more polite and calm you remain the less likely that the argument will escalate into a shouting match, since you're just fueling the fire at that point. Instead of grasping at the anger in the moment, concentrate on the outcome. You want it to be good and everyone to end up happy in the end, so stay calm. It's hard to be mean to someone who's continually kind, so keeping a level head — even if you have to fake it — will make your arguments turn out a lot better.

Got any of your own tips for a better argument? Let's hear 'em in the comments.

The Art of the Argument [Psychology Today]

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Comments

    Plenty of opportunities to practice on this if you are married.

    Just curious, do you have a psychologist on staff... or want one?

    Calling your Mother-in-law colourful names does not help!

    I don,t think quickly enough to win arguments but I realise that I can't win unless I have evidence.
    Some people expect to win on hearsay and spurious grounds and place the burden of proof on me, so I declare the argument not worth proceeding unless I have evidence.

    I find myself to be very calm and level headed during a argument. I try and bring facts and evidence to the table but more likely then not this starts a more heated situation where the other party would start to nit pick on off topic subjects and find something to make me look like the bad guy.

    I also get grief for being the guy "who gets walked all over" because what I try to do is resolve the conflict where both parties are happy with the outcome. But because of the first part of bringing the facts and evidence to the table this sometimes makes they look like a fool and they resort to anything to stop making them look like the ass.

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