3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start an Argument

Standing up for yourself is important. Being able to express the opinions that really matter to you is important too. A true friend will allow you to do both of those things. They will understand that you don’t always have to agree on everything in order to get along. They may even like that you both see things differently, because it gives you stuff to talk about. Still, you’ve got to keep in mind that there’s an important difference between expressing yourself and being argumentative. Not understanding that difference can push others away, and hurt your chances of becoming their friend.

No one wants to feel like they have to watch what they say, because they might get pulled into an argument. If your friends feel like they always have be on the defensive when they’re with you, it might make them uncomfortable, and they may avoid conversations with you altogether.

So next time, before you argue, try asking yourself these 3 questions:

  1.  How strongly do you really feel about this topic? Sometimes arguing for the sake of arguing becomes a habit. When that’s the case, you may find yourself getting all riled up over something that doesn’t matter much to you in the long run. If your friend just wants to state an opinion, such as the best song on the radio or the funniest movie of the summer, there’s no need to become confrontational. Sometimes you’ve just got to let the little things go. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and if their opinion isn’t going to hurt anyone or affect your life in any major way, an argument probably isn’t warranted. Instead of arguing, just let your friends talk and share what they think. It’ll help them to feel comfortable talking to you, instead of feeling like they have to be on guard.
  2. Did your friend have a chance to explain his point of view? Sometimes we think we disagree with someone more strongly than we actually do once they explain their thinking. It’s always a good idea to let someone elaborate on what they’re saying, instead of cutting them off with an argument. If they don’t freely offer an explanation, maybe you could ask for one. “Why do you say that?” is a great question to ask when we hear something we don’t immediately agree with. It’ll help your friend feel as if you’re really interested in what they think, and not just looking for an opportunity to shut them down. It’ll also give you a chance to hear a point of view you might not have considered before.
  3. Is there a nicer way to say what you’re thinking? Not all disagreements have to become arguments. Sometimes they can make for great conversations. Be aware of your tone when you’re disagreeing with someone. There’s no need to raise your voice or be sarcastic. Also be considerate of your words. Name calling or even labeling a person’s idea as “stupid” can get you into a lot of trouble. Instead of being confrontational, you could simply say something like “I don’t see it that way because…” or “I don’t know if I agree with that. I’ve always thought…” This will give you a chance to say what you’re thinking in a way that won’t insult anybody else.

When it comes to disagreeing, always remember that hurting someone’s feelings should never be your goal. You don’t want to make others feel bad about their opinions, even if you don’t share them. You don’t always have to make others come around to your point of view either. Sometimes, it’s best if you just agree to disagree. It will make building friendships go much more smoothly, and it’ll help you cut back on unnecessary drama. Just as important, it’ll give you a chance to consider ideas and opinions you may not have thought about before.

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Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More