Two wrongs don’t make a right.Old proverb
We’ve heard this proverb countless times. Well what it means in this context is that when others hurt us, we should not do something hurtful in return.
When an argument starts heating up, both parties want to prove that they are right; going on top of their voices and sometimes getting violent just to achieve this. The truth is that we cannot always be as right as we want to be and sometimes even when we are the offended party, we still have a choice. A choice to let peace reign.
Here are a few guidelines to de-escalate an already escalating argument and secure your peace of mind:
- Listen, Acknowledge then Speak. Whether it’s with your partner at home, a colleague at work or a stranger on the road, once you notice that voices are raising, stop immediately and allow the person say what they need to say. By playing this mature role, you’ll find that the other party might just lower their voice as well. Listen, then let them know you’ve heard them, and finally, give your statement once they’ve finished. In this state, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say and apologize if the fault is theirs and vice versa. The point here is someone has to stop talking, let that person be you.
- Do Not Increase your Tone or Change Your Body Language. First of all, increasing your tone is almost always perceived as aggressive and confrontational, you don’t want that. Secondly, your body language matters as well. You could ask the other party to calm down whereas your body language is saying a different thing. Be mindful of these. If you already did raise your voice, lower it. You could even sit calmly if you were standing and allow the other party bare their mind. It is common for people to say a lot of things that do not really mean in the heat of an argument so brace yourself and don’t react negatively. This does not make you gullible or weak, it’s maturity and superiority.
- Try to Understand the Other Person’s Emotions. As humans, we are emotional beings and most times it gets the best of us. With this in mind, make an effort to see what they are trying to say from their own perspective before disclosing yours. Also let them know you understand what they are trying to say. You could go further by making gestures such as holding their hands, speaking softly, drawing closer, etc. This reduces tension making the other party relaxed and more willing to listen to you.
- Make Them Feel Like They Won the Argument As well. Let’s be frank, no one likes to lose an argument; because deep down we always want to be right. In fact, we like for the other party to be wrong and apologize because it sort of massages our ego. If this is true, why don’t we use it to our advantage in conflict resolution. Even if you feel you’re actually right, try to resolve the issue on a “middle ground” where the other person feels like they won to an extent. Say, oh you’re actually right there, or I’ll make it right here. The point here is, while trying to explain your end, sincerely acknowledge the area they were actually right and apologize. This makes it easier for the other party to do the same and respect you in the process.
- Leave old topics where they are: There is a famous saying that goes:
You don’t reopen old wounds to examine their origin. Leave them healed.
Whenever you see an argument brewing, talk about the matter at hand without dragging up old topics to make things worse. Don’t say things like; that’s the same thing you did on so and so date, or worse don’t bring up other faults totally unrelated to the matter at hand. Statements like this don’t help, instead they make the other person defensive and further escalate the issue. Let the past remain the past.
In conclusion, the major key to take home here is this; everyone wants to be right and that make arguments in itself a zero sum game. Ideally, we should stay away from them. But life happens and some times we find ourselves entangled in this game even against our will. However, we have a choice, we always have a choice. The choice to be the understanding one, the selfless one, the mature one and ultimately the superior one.
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