We've all been there. One minute you engage someone spouting off their opinions and the next you're both all screamy, frustrated, and have solved nothing. Don't let it happen to you!
Here are some handy tips on how to talk to people who see things differently than you without letting it turn into a full-blown argument.
1. Genuinely Listen To Their Opinion First
Generally, it’s a good idea to let the other person present their argument first for a variety of reasons. The first is that it’s a good way to tell if even offering a differing opinion is a good idea at all.
There are a few delicate subjects on which people can get really passionate really fast and if you can tell that the other person is already coming from an angry place it may just be best to nod along and thank them for explaining their view point. Keep in mind that this in no way obligates you to agree with it or adopt it as your own.
If they do appear open for discussion however, having been an active listener when they explained their perspective is a good way to encourage them to afford you the same courtesy.
2. Offer Your Opinion Rather Than Give It
If you find that your conversation partner is coming from a balanced place and seems open to your viewpoint, literally ask them if they’d care to hear it and thank them for sharing their own with you.
This makes it clear that you aren’t trying to turn the conversation into a challenge and are open to the fact that at the end of it, it’s perfectly okay if you neither of you leaves with a changed opinion.
This brings a sense of ease into play that makes it clear that you’re interested in have a conversation rather than an argument. Ironically, if you’re really going to change someone’s mind, not insisting on it goes a long way in making them feel open enough to really hear out your viewpoint.
3. Look for Common Ground and Acknowledge Their Good Points
This is another way to keep your conversation partner feeling safe and avoid coming from the “I’m right, your wrong” perspective, which is about the quickest way there is to shut someone down.
It helps make the other person feel like you’re two people trying to figure out the solution to the problem together rather than opposing forces trying to prove each other wrong.
4. Avoid Getting Emotional or Causing Them Too
Ever wondered why people tend to start screaming during arguments? It’s because when anger, fear, or other strong emotions come into play both people tend to stop listening to one another.
At this point, it becomes more or less about making sure their own opinion is heard for both parties, even if they have to yell to do it. Once you get here, you’re unlikely to reach common ground, so avoid letting things get heated at all costs.
5. Present Your Argument as a Different Perspective Rather Than Disagreement
This avoids introducing the sense that somebody has to walk away “wrong,” which is something nobody enjoys. Not agreeing with another person’s opinion is no reason not to thank them for helping them understand their viewpoint better.
If you find some of the things they are saying interesting, tell them and reassure them that their argument isn’t necessarily invalid, simply that you happen to see things another way.
6. Take Turns
Nothing is more frustrating during the course of an argument than being interrupted, except perhaps restraining yourself from doing the interrupting.
Still, if you can’t resist the urge, there’s no reason to expect your partner not too. Explain that you’re willing to hear them out but only if they can afford you the same courtesy when it’s your turn.
7. Acknowledge Your Argument’s Flaws
If they bring up a hole in your argument, acknowledge that they’ve made a good point. This will make them feel safer to do the same thing when you make an equally valid point about their view.
It’s also a good way to keep from falling into the trap of coming across as superior or a know at all and reinforce that you’re all about keeping the discussion light and open.
8. Use Reliable References
Unless you’re an absolute expert on something you’re discussing, it’s a good idea to be able to bring in evidence from people who are. Try and use trustworthy quotes, statistics, or view points from reliable people.
If you can come up with sources who the other person likes or admirers, then you’re more likely to get them to come around.
9. Avoid Generalizing Language such as “All” and “Every”
Let’s face it, very few things are true 100% of the time. Using terms like this open up your argument to exceptions and loop holes and generally make you seem close-minded and unreasonable.
10. Explain What Changed Your Own Mind
If you once agreed with the other person’s viewpoint but eventually changed your mind, acknowledging it is a really great place to start. It introduces a level of empathy and pretty much takes away the other person’s need to argue, due to the fact that you’ve acknowledged totally understanding where they are coming from.
From there, ask them if they are open to hearing what changed your mind and if so, start by explaining why you once felt like they did and then begin to introduce the facts that led you to feel otherwise.
11. Stay Likable
Overall, the more friendly and considerate you are, the more likely you are to get your point across and truly be heard. After all, who wants to adopt the view point of someone they don’t even like and have no desire to emulate?
This is where plenty of smiles, reassurance, and open-mindedness come in. The more open-minded you can stay, the more likely you’re going to be to present yourself as someone others can relate to and want to be like.
SHARE your thoughts on how to avoid fighting when speaking your mind!