How to Defuse Disagreements Quickly

Written by Angela Atkinson

Disagreements are common between even the best of friends. There are also people in the world that seem to enjoy being difficult. It can be challenging to assert yourself without creating additional drama.

Most of us are so uncomfortable in contentious situations that we either walk away or become angry and escalate the level of disagreement. What if you could resolve it instead?

Whether your disagreement is with a spouse, coworker, or neighbor, there are strategies you can use to find a resolution or at least avoid an all-out war.

Resolving disagreements is definitely a skill worth learning. Try these techniques to defuse disagreements and arguments:

  1. Seek to clarify. Sometimes, what seems like a disagreement is simply a miscommunication. Ensure that you clearly understand what the other person is saying. Ask questions and clarify the situation. Also, be certain that the other person understands your position.
  2. Take a break. Get a cup of coffee together or an ice cream cone. Spend some time together doing something enjoyable. You both might forget all about your argument while enjoying a hot fudge sundae.
  3. Ask yourself if it’s important to agree. Reaching an agreement on child-rearing might be important. Agreeing on which political party is better might not be as important. Many differences are okay and need not impact a relationship. Be sure that the disagreement is worth continuing.
  4. Avoid taking the disagreement personally. Once your ego is involved, it’s much more challenging to resolve the conflict. Likewise, avoid attacking the other person on a personal level. Stay on task and lower the stress levels.
  5. Keep the volume under control. As you get louder, the other person will become more agitated and increase their volume as well. Maintain a calm, reasonable tone of voice.
  6. Put on your listening ears. The most common thing to do while someone else is speaking is to think of what you’re going to say the second they stop. You can’t formulate an appropriate response and listen effectively at the same time. Focus on what the other person is saying while they talk.
  7. Be aware of your non-verbal communication. You might not realize the message you’re inadvertently sending to the other person. A large part of communication is nonverbal, so your gestures and facial expressions are meaningful.
  8. Walk away if the situation spirals out of control. You don’t have to stand there and take verbal abuse. Be willing to walk away and resume the conversation at another time when cooler heads prevail.
  9. Be willing to admit you’re wrong. No one is right 100% of the time. If you realize that you’re wrong, admit it and move on. Apologize. Offer a solution to the situation.

Any disagreement can quickly get out of hand, potentially damaging your relationship with the other person.

Having a productive disagreement is a skill. Take the time to ensure the disagreement is worth continuing. Listen carefully and clarify what you say and hear. You might find that you don’t have a disagreement at all!

Disagreements are part of life. Learn how to handle them effectively. Place your focus on finding common ground and discovering a resolution that you both can move forward with.

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