There are three kinds of people in the world: those who avoid conflict, those who resolve conflict quickly and amicably, and those who always like to remind you of the conflict you have (the never-getting-over-it type). While it’s perfectly normal to have an argument with someone every now and then, there is nothing good about conflicts that people simply refuse to stop.
I wouldn’t say there is a right way to handle conflict, but, it is important to learn how to lessen the effects of disagreement or to just let things go. Your life is already busy enough! Leave some space in your head for better things by ending a feud and stop holding onto a grudge. You’ll feel a whole lot better.
Whether you and your friend are fighting over something important like the weekly budget for living expense, bills, and food or something trivial like who let the dog out in the rain, there is always a sane way to end the argument. Understanding how to punch the red light on an argument can keep you back from turning a minor disagreement into a relationship-ending disaster.
Here are a few ways to avoiding digging in your heels and instead love with your hearts:
- Accept that you’re not always right (even if you are). Sometimes, compromise is good and it’ll make you look like the adult in the scenario. Compromise isn’t about laying down and allowing someone to walk all over you. It is about choosing to see the big picture and thinking about where you’d like to be a few weeks, months, or years down the road.
- Go somewhere else with the argument. Yes, that’s right. Ever seen two people arguing and suddenly it all stops as soon as they catch you staring. You bet, it’s the sting of embarrassment. So, the next time you’re arguing, head to the nearest coffee shop or mall where other people are around and you’re more likely to quickly see what the big deal is or that there’s no big deal at all. Better yet, head to your parent’s house. (Just kidding).
- Be silent. It’s the silent treatment (in a good way). If the argument is going on and on and on, just take a cue from a marriage book and be totally silent and let the other person rant on. Tony Gaskins said, “Arguing isn’t communication, it’s noise.” When it’s just noise, shut up! Silence is never more golden than you’re saying so much without really saying a word.
- Let yourself engage in a little hypothetical imagination. Think to yourself, ‘If I told my friends about this argument, would they think it was stupid?’ If the answer is yes, drop it, and move on. Minor squabbles are completely senseless. Don’t waste your time.
- Ask whether or not you’re understanding the situation. You could say something like, ‘Okay, let me make sure I’m understanding you correctly.’ Then, summarize what the other person said as best you can, and please don’t do it sarcastically. This may seem counterproductive but this is why this way works well. Most times in arguments, people are fighting to be heard. Instead of fighting to be heard, you stop and listen which lessens defensiveness from the other party.
- Take a break. Walk away. Head to the garage. Get in your car and just drive. This will give your brain a rest. Sometimes, getting out of the situation will give you a clearer head and may even help you develop a solution to the problem (providing there is a real problem, to begin with).
- Get out of each other’s face. Get on the phone, fire away on text messages, shoot emails like missiles, hop on Facebook. Continuing the argument in another form can remove some of the emotional stings from the encounter. You’re also more likely to focus on the problem and not the person.
Arguments with your boyfriend or girlfriend can be dealt with in the same way. Something I keep in the back of my mind when my boyfriend hasn’t picked up his laundry (after I asked him 20 times) is to pick and choose fights. If I’m yelling at him every day, nothing good is going to come out of it. Yes, he may finally pick up his clothes, but was it worth getting into a fight over? No.
There is always going to be disagreements in any kind of relationship as long as you live. Just remember to learn to let things go because, in the end, you’ll feel so much better. Ending an argument isn’t about finding the easy way out; it’s about finding a better way to live, work, and play together. I think this comes along with age but you don’t have to wait for age to catch up with you. We learn to let go of things that aren’t so important so we can focus on the things that are.
Collaboration with Kaitlin Livingston