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How to Turn an Argument Around: Three Keys to Success

howtoturnanargumentaroundYou know that point in an argument right before the blow up?

Things are beginning to heat up, but you’re not past the point of no return. You could still save yourself from the damage that is sure to come.

This is where we’re going to focus today. Managing this crucial point of awareness is the key to avoiding the pain of another argument. We’ll go over just three critical things you need to do.

It’s important to remember that NONE of these steps involve caving in or sacrificing your sense of justice. Avoiding arguments doesn’t make you weak. It makes you stronger. Weak, insecure people argue chronically. Strong people can remain calm and respect boundaries.

Here are the key elements you’ll need:

1. Intention

This is where it all begins. Do you really want to be calm and avoid arguments? It’s easy to say that. However, after a discussion begins to escalate, most of us get emotionally hooked. After we’ve heated up a bit, we no longer care about our positive intentions. We feel it is more justified to let the other person have it!

This is, of course, self-sabotage. Saying mean things to another person almost always leads you straight into rejection, deprivation of needs, and all manner of negative consequences. Worse, most of us already know this. Yet, we feel compelled to sabotage ourselves and our relationships anyway. What gives?

It’s self-sabotage, plain and simple. Some lurking part of us thrives on the pain or drama. This is what gets in the way of our best intentions.

To summarize: Be clear about your intention to avoid arguments. If your intention is susceptible to self-sabotage, then learn how self-sabotage works in your psyche and how to stop it. This free video explains all of the above.

2. Calm yourself

If you’re calm, you’re not arguing. In a way, asking you to stay calm is asking you not to argue. If getting sucked into arguments is a problem, then remaining calm is a problem. How can you stay calm in the face of someone who is attacking you?

calm peaceIt’s simple, but often not so easy. Mostly, it has to do with emotional boundaries. If you confuse who you are with what other people think of you, then you give them a lot of power over your emotions. If you confuse who you are with how others cooperate with you, then again, you’re putting your emotions in their hands.

You want to develop boundaries that allow you to let others do what they do and deal with the consequences.

If your child isn’t cooperating, you could begin to yell, but why not calmly remind him of the consequences? Then, calmly deliver those consequences.

If your partner is mistreating you, why make things worse by starting a fight? You could just remind him or her that being with you is dependent upon mutual respect. No respect, no relationship.

Boundaries. They’ll make or break you.

And of course, you know the techniques to manage your emotional state. Take a deep breath (and keep breathing deeply throughout the interaction).

One of the best methods around for remaining calm and centered is Tame the DMN, which actually relaxes the stressed and scattered brain network (Default Mode Network) that contributes toward emotional volatility.

3. Ask questions

In the face of a verbal attack or accusation, most of us naturally want to respond with self-justification. We want to defend ourselves. Ironically, this often escalates an argument.

It’s much better to seek information when attacked. Your attacker has one mission, whether that mission is acknowledged or not. Your attacker wants to be understood, even though he or she might not make that easy to do.

Ask questions. Before deciding what to do, make sure you completely understand what your attacker really wants. When you know enough to put yourself in the other’s shoes and understand why he or she might be mad, then you know enough to decide how to proceed. Fighting back will not get you there.

Ask questions like:

• How did you become so angry?
• What do you want?
• What are you expecting of me right now?

Remember, you’re just gathering information. You don’t need to give in. You do need to know specifically what the other really expects before making a good decision. The key is to ask the questions calmly.

With the right intention, a calm mind and body and some good questions, you’ll turn arguments into productive conversations.

Your main enemy is self-sabotage. If you feel compelled to dive into the pain of an argument, then that is a self-sabotaging choice. It means that at some level you are drawn toward the emotional angst.

You’re not alone in this. All of us have self-sabotaging tendencies. Again, the key is understanding how self-sabotage works at the deeper levels of your mind, and then pulling it out by the roots. This free video will show you how.

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How to Turn an Argument Around: Three Keys to Success

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2015). How to Turn an Argument Around: Three Keys to Success. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 22, 2019, from


Last updated: 17 Jun 2015
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