If you find yourself arguing with a particular person a lot, reflect upon your underlying motivations. They may be causing your discussions to turn into arguments.
1. Whether you have to be right,
2. Whether you have to prove your point,
3. Whether you are trying to get the other person to validate you,
4. Whether you are trying to change the other person, or
5. Whether you expect a silent, compliant audience.
All these motivations negate connection and stop effective communication between people. Coercive argument from a stance of superiority only results in hostility.
Relationships improve when people can discuss their opinions passionately AND compassionately. To communicate effectively and avoid bitter arguments, make sure you 1) find out what the other person believes and desires, and 2) express yourself in a way that the other person will be more likely to be open to hearing what you believe and desire.
When you are motivated to enhance your relationship, communications become pleasant and more effective. You can try the following:
1. Listen more and really try to understand what the other person thinks and feels. Put yourself in his or her shoes.
2. Let the other person finish his or her thoughts before interrupting with another point of view.
3. Express yourself so that you don’t trigger the other person. Focus particularly on your body language and tone of voice.
4. Be ready to simply accept your differences.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD