Nowadays, everyone I know is running a little hotter than usual, and I don’t mean in a sexy way. The pandemic has tapped our last nerve and the tensions created are causing all of us to have a shorter than normal fuse. One second we feel perfectly “normal” (for normal during COVID) and, in the next, we feel as if we have to fight for the last vial of vaccine to ensure our existence can continue. So it’s a great time to have some resources on hand to support us when we begin to act irrationally and explode friendships and deals because of our lack of level-headedness.
Here are my 5 best tips for winning arguments that I’ve found to be most effective in my coaching and energetic healing practice these last 20 years.
- Don’t try to win the argument; diffuse it. Anyone you truly care about deserves a constructive, conscious conversation where both parties can listen and respond calmly. Defuse the argument from the start. Become aware of the escalating tensions and stop them before tensions go beyond the stopping point. How? Take a time out and breathe. Even as the other person is winding up, take the pause and allow them to see you choosing to disengage, to breathe, to allow yourself the space to calm down. Your energy of calm will actually help settle their energy. Don’t speak. Don’t engage. Continue to remain quiet and calm, taking slow, steady breaths until you feel that the tension between you has melted. Worse case, your opponent will give up and walk away. Best case, they’ll calm down and a rational conversation can occur.
- Offer a “love sandwich.” This is a proven technique that that allows the mind to process difficult to hear information, giving the other person the space to process what we’re saying in a much more constructive way. You begin with a comment that is genuine and pleasing about the other person. For example, “I love you and I know that you really want the best for us.” Next, we’d typically insert “But…” Don’t. Eliminate the word “but” and replace it with “and.” (“But” to our minds says, “brutal useless thoughts.” In other words, everything I just said, delete that. Here’s what I really mean. So we always use “and” instead.)
Next say the potentially controversial content here, being mindful to say it as succinctly as possible and without emotion. “And when you do X, it makes me feel Y.” Insert another “and.” “And you’re an amazing person so I know you wouldn’t intentionally want to hurt me.” This takes some practice as it’s not a typical way of speaking, especially when our emotions are peaking, yet it has always proven to be exceptionally effective for myself and my clients. Many report feeling that this habit sets the stage for a massive improvement in all their communications.
- Remember the best about them. Often, when we’re about to go to battle with someone, we’ve mentally tossed out all the memories and recognition of their good qualities. In that moment, we see them as the enemy instead of a person we value and with whom we have a history. This is the time to dig up the best parts of your history. Take a pause and close your eyes. Recall one of your favorite memories about this person…something that makes you smile and think of them more fondly than any other time. Allow yourself to feel this memory vividly in your mind as if it’s real. What do you see? What do you taste? What do you smell? What do you hear? What do you feel? Bring the memory full to life in your body and enjoy the sensations of making it real in the now for several minutes. Now return to your partner and realize how your big energy shift also shifts them. The argument is downgraded and allows for a constructive discussion, with you and your loving energy leading the way.
- Send love. I learned some time ago that our minds prepare for conflict before words are uttered. We sense others’ body language and can know subconsciously that a battle is being drawn. Take time to close your eyes and visualize a ball of light in your chest, as if it were a ball of sunshine. Imagine that the ball of light gets more intense and beams outward, sending love, like light rays, wherever you direct it. Send love to your partner (or opponent) before speaking with them. Imagine you fill the entire space they’re in with love and send it to surround you as well. Sit in the stillness and warmth of this love you created and enjoy it, noticing that your heart rate slows, along with your nervous system. When you re-engage with your partner, you’ll have a very different energy, as will they. The fight will feel far less relevant or, at least, downgraded to a manageable discussion.
- Do something completely unexpected. Years ago, I learned this powerful technique and it’s one of my favorites. It’s especially effective when you come to realize that you fight with a partner over the same things, in the same circumstances. My ex and I would always end up having a big brawl when we had dinner parties because he wanted all the other dishes ready to be served when he had finished grilling the meat. The problem was that he typically failed to give me a warning of when he was taking it off the barbeque. One day, instead of ramping up for the argument I knew was coming, I took time to cool down and prepare differently. When my husband reached the kitchen and realized we were about to do our usual dance of “it’s your fault” and “here we go agains,” instead of blaming him for his lack of communication, I ran, leapt with feet around his waist, and began planting kisses all over the head and neck. Needless to say, there was no fight. Humor in almost any form wins the day.
When you stop the argument before it gets heated, you win.
It’s conscious communication skills that says, “I care about you too much to engage in destructive behavior. I choose to make things calmer and more assessable for us to discuss, even the hard things.”