Constant arguing can cause stress, frustration, and anger leaving you in a mental state that makes the argument hard to resolve. Let’s face it, no one likes the negative emotions that result from arguing. Yet, often we still pursue an argument. Why? Because releasing the bottled emotions outside of yourself feels good in the short-term. But in the long-term, your less likely to experience happiness. Believe it or not, but there are healthy ways to communicate your needs to help you stop arguing for good so you can have peaceful relationships with your spouse, coworkers, family members, or friends. In this article, we’ll share some of our best practices on how to stop arguing.
How to Stop Arguing In Less Than Five Minutes
1. Match the Intensity and Slowly Change It
If you’re having a fight with someone in-person, it’s important that you mirror them. In psychology, when people mirror other people it shows that they’re connecting. So if you make the same hand gestures or match the same tone of voice, you’ll be subconsciously bonding with the other person. However, to stop the argument, you need to eventually lower the intensity. You need to make sure that you’re both perfectly mirrored from voice to body language before you transition. And slowly lower the intensity of the voice and body language to a more calmer state. As the emotional intensity lowers, you can stop arguing and start talking it out. This actually works well for other intensive states as well. For example, if you’re in a relationship with someone who has panic attacks often, you should hug that person making the same labored breathing they’re having and slowly lower the state to help calm them down. If you find your arguments are often with people with anxiety disorders, this can be a helpful technique to lower their stress levels. So, if you want to know how to stop arguing, you should consider this mirroring practice and slowly transition the other person into a calmer state.
2. Listen Carefully, Look for Subtext
Most people start out very direct in their communication style. They might specifically tell you what they want or need from you. However, when their needs are continuously unmet, they’ll start communicating less directly. Eventually, you’ll need to learn to read the subtext in everything they say. When someone explodes in a rage of anger, what are they actually upset about? Often, it’s not the words they’re actually saying. Sometimes, they don’t feel safe, appreciated, or loved. Other times, a person is burnt out and needs a break. Sometimes, they’re trying to escape a situation and they’re being critical because they’re trying to create an emotional break. If you show compassion and kindness by mirroring their words, as time goes on you’ll start to get to the root of where the problem lies so you can learn how to stop arguing for good.
3. Don’t Stonewall
Stonewalling is the only impossible way to stop arguing but it never leads the the resolution of the problem. It only makes the other person fume in a fit of rage. If one person completely disconnects from the arguing by sitting silently ignoring the other person, it can completely create a wall or barrier between the two of you.
I once had to deal with stonewalling in my marriage. I spent about six hours trying to break through slowly and in bits throughout the day. However, I eventually landed on something that resulted in my husband to connect with me emotionally so we can restart the communication. When he was sitting on the couch working on his computer, I sat next to him. Then, I put on his favorite movie and made popcorn for myself. Eventually, he reached for the popcorn and started watching with me. I made a couple of comments about the movie and he laughed. After the movie, we were able to discuss our needs in a productive way. I discussed my need for safety and he discussed his need for allowing me to trust him that he would keep me safe. And his words made me more mindful of how I was making him feel so that I wouldn’t make the same mistake again. And that’s how you stop arguing after facing a stonewalling roadblock.
4. Change the Format
Most arguments online are text-based. And if it’s hard to stop an argument in person, you can imagine how hard it is to stop arguing online when you can’t see body language or hear a person’s tone. You also can’t see their emotional state. Maybe the person is depressed or stressed with personal issues. And so they come to the internet. In some cases, you might not be arguing with someone on Twitter. Instead, you might be arguing with a coworker via a text-based communication like Slack. In this case, you’ll need to remember that your coworker is also human and likely battling stress. If possible, try to change the format from a text-based response to a video response. When you see facial expressions or you communicate visually how you’re feeling based on someone else’s words, it’s easier to stop arguing because you finally see the person behind the screen.
5. Don’t Boss People Around
One of the easiest ways to stop arguing is to avoid nagging or bossing people around. When someone is told what to do it often results in a inferior-superior relationship. And with a relationship like that of course there’ll be arguments. People want to be treated as equals. No one wants to be treated the same way they were when they were five, especially in adulthood. People have a way of coming around without you pressuring them. If you kindly ask someone to help with chores when they have a chance, more often than not they’ll help out. However, when you demand it or expect it in that exact moment, they often will feel resistant to the idea. Sometimes people are in the middle of a game or an activity, and simply want to finish before setting out to do their responsibilities. If you need help around the home, encourage them to listen to their music or a podcast while doing it so they can blend the chore with an activity they like.
6. Communicate Your Needs by Being Specific
As we mentioned in the stonewalling section, a lot of arguments start by failing to address specific needs. How often do we scream, “you’re not listening to me” only to hear “I am listening to you.” Well, obviously if the person responds that back you aren’t doing a good enough job describing the need you’re aiming to have. People struggle to read subtext. If you feel vulnerable, you can combat a lot of arguments by showing and communicating your vulnerability. “When you say x, I feel underappreciated. I work hard to do y for you, all I want to know is that you value the little things I do for you.” or “When I clean up after you I feel like I’m your mother instead of your wife, I want to feel like we’re equals in this marriage.” Being specific about your needs can help the other person understand your perspective and thus allow you to stop arguing all the time.
7. Meet in the Middle
In order to master how to stop arguing, you’ll need to meet in the middle. Often, we want people to do things on our terms and in our way. However, doing that won’t allow you to resolve the argument. There is always a way for two people to meet in the middle and be happy about the solution. Is there a way to give you both a 50-50 split on the solution? How much do you need to move forward to give the other person their fair share in a situation? Is it possible that you’re both being unreasonable and stubborn? If so, inch one step forward in their direction and you’ll likely see them do the same.
8. Acknowledge the Other Person’s Perspective
Often arguments occur when we think about ourselves and fail to consider the other person’s perspective. One way to empathize with another person to try to understand their situation is to bring back their humanity? Can you picture the person struggling with depression or anxiety? Is it possible to imagine them getting yelled at work? Do you see the pain they feel bottled inside themselves, trapped, desperate to be released? Every single person on this planet struggles with something. From the poorest person to the richest person. From the healthiest person to the unhealthiest person. We all have our battles to face. Sometimes you need to realize that you aren’t the only person who’s unhappy in the situation. And by realizing that you might show more kindness and compassion to the other person in the argument who’s just as unhappy as you are. And by bringing kindness and empathy into the relationship, the level of humanity you bring moving forward will help to figure out how to stop arguing.
Say “I’m sorry.” Tell them why you’re sorry. Share the pain you’ve been going through and why you’ve been feeling that way. Let them know that you know actions speak louder than words. Start taking positive actions to resolve the hurt. By taking the step forward to apologize, you inch closer to the solution that’ll lead you to stop arguing. They’re just two words but they make a world of difference. Most people will avoid saying those two words because of ego. And others will feel like they’re the only ones to ever say it. But by apologizing you move into a direction that allows you to have inner peace. And isn’t that way you want to stop arguing in the first place?
Hopefully, by extending an olive branch, the person you’re arguing with knows how to forgive in a healthy and productive way. Even if they don’t, it’s the gesture on your end that counts.
10. Don’t Threaten to Leave
In arguments with couples, sometimes things get so heated that people threaten to leave. However, threatening to leave isn’t a healthy sign in a relationship. If you threaten to leave, the best course of action is to leave for good. A lot of times couples do on and off relationships. Those relationships never have the happily ever after you think they will. Why? Because once it’s clear that exiting the relationship is a possibility, someone will exit at the smallest adversity. If things get really heated, you can acknowledge that you’d like to go for a walk to calm down so you can resolve the problem with a clearer head. But if you value the relationship and the person, you shouldn’t threaten to leave the relationship.
11. Avoid Ruminating Your Thoughts
Studies show that women do this far more often than men. When a woman is faced with a problem she ruminates on it and often makes it worse. However, a man will distract himself by playing video games or listening to a podcast. If you’re having a long-term argument with someone that lasts a few weeks, avoid thinking about what they could’ve meant by what they said. Don’t try to solve the problem in your head. There’s two sides to this argument and rather than guessing what someone could’ve meant, you need to find out exactly what they meant. If finding out the truth isn’t possible, then you need to acknowledge that you might not get closure on the problem and be okay with that.
12. Keep the Fight Between the Two of You
An argument often entails just two people. If you and your spouse have a heated argument, do not under any circumstances call your friends or parents or coworkers to tell them about it. It’s completely disrespectful to bring other people into your argument. By bringing other people into the problem, you’re essentially creating a team of people who will agree with you. These people on your team will create a deeper wedge in your relationship. And you might end up getting divorced or experience a failed relationship because an outsider got involved. Also, once a problem resolves itself, it’s next to impossible for your family and friends to look at your spouse the same way again. Never, ever, ever, ever bring someone else into your problem. If you need a mediator, work with a neutral family counselor.
In this article, you learned how to stop arguing in five minutes. You learned how toxic it can be to bring others into your arguments, how important it is to have arguments in person instead of online or via text, and how to communicate your needs so that you’re heard. Some arguments may last only a couple of minutes while others may seem to last forever, however, all arguments are easily solved when you practice compassion, kindness, and empathy. By looking at the person you argue with as a human being with feelings, challenges, and bad days, you’ll be better able to understand their perspective to hopefully come to a resolution you both agree with.