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Having a better argument

I am about to give you my personal tips on how to have a good argument.

The term “good argument” might seem a bit oxymoronic, but I believe arguments are an unavoidable part of life, and “good” arguments can often lead the way for better communication. While it can be stressful and upsetting to find yourself in the middle of an argument with a friend, coworker or loved one, it is important to be able to understand the reasoning behind the disagreement and search for a solution, and that’s a great way to open up my first tip for a good argument:

1. Have an end goal. If you start an argument just for the sake of arguing and don’t have a goal at the end of the disagreement, such as settling a dispute or addressing a problem, there is no sense in having the argument. If you catch yourself starting a discussion that doesn’t seem to have a goal at the end, call the conversation quits before you get too far.

2. Never raise your voice. Other people might “argue” that the difference between an argument and a discussion/debate is arguments are heated and often lead to yelling. While arguments can lead to yelling, creating a tense and threatening environment closes off any chances of a productive dispute, as you are focusing less on getting a point across and more on upsetting yourself and the other person.

3. Actually, take your peer’s comments into consideration. It is normal for most people to go into an argument with the firm belief that their opinion is the only right opinion and that there is no chance that what the other person says is true. So, instead of listening to hear what the other person has to say, many people simply nod their heads and wait for their turn to speak instead of actually listening and absorbing the other person’s viewpoints. You may skip over the root of the problem if you don’t open up and listen to the other person instead of just waiting for your turn to speak.

4. Know when to back off and cool down. If your argument is getting heated, the chances of coming up with a resolution or simply agreeing to disagree drastically decrease. If you and your peer are starting to raise your voices, or perhaps you’ve been arguing for what seems like an eternity and getting nowhere fast, don’t be afraid to recommend leaving the subject alone until there’s a better time to discuss things. Sometimes the best way to approach an argument is to pause, let things cool down overnight, and return to the subject when you feel that you can speak with a level head once more.

5. Look for a moderator. Sometimes two people get so caught up in an argument that they become blind to the other person’s reasoning. It can be helpful to find a moderator that can point out details in each person’s case and assist in finding a solution. This person could be an authority figure, a friend, a parent, etc. However, keep in mind that a moderator, while unbiased, should not be made to feel uncomfortable or targeted if they too express an opinion. Look for someone who does not “have a dog in the fight” and don’t attempt to sway that person to “your side.” Let them point out the things that you might miss in the heat of the moment.

There you have it. Remember that an argument is not a fight— it’s a sometimes unavoidable interaction between another person. While arguments can be intimidating and uncomfortable, knowing the best way to approach an argument can lead to a better outcome for all parties. While I’m no professional, and my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt, I find that these strategies help me to have better arguments when they can’t be avoided.

Alexa Massey is a staff reporter for The Kenbridge-Victoria Dispatch and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Alexa.Massey@KVDispatch.com.