Perhaps you had a few conversations in the past year that you regret. Perhaps your friend, neighbor, or family member has gone apocalyptic and you have adjusted the intensity. Rosalie Puiman, leadership trainer and author of the Mindful Guide to Conflict Resolution, says this doesn’t have to be the case. Here are her top tips on how to better argue and deal with conflict.
1. Let go of your ego
“When you have a tough discussion, especially about politics – and you want to be constructive – let go of the old paradigm of winning and losing,” says Puiman. Argue not to win, but to explore the intricacies of another person’s perspective. Postponing the narrative lowers the stakes.
2. Be curious
“A good way to do this is to ask what the other person’s experience is. Be sincere and share yours too. “When you reveal something personal and make yourself vulnerable, a divisive topic can feel less like a debate about moral mandates of right and wrong.
3. Tap Unspoken Emotions
Polarizing problems can automatically trigger fear and defenses. “The other person may be scared, angry, hurt, or not feeling seen. Identify that and say, “Wow, I feel so much pain in your words.” Empathy can steer the dialogue into neutral territory.
4. Know when to go
It’s okay to cut bait when things aren’t going well. “Say, ‘I think we are touching issues that we absolutely disagree on, and I don’t think it will help our relationship if we continue like this.’ “Changing the subject never stops.
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