Do you ever feel like an argument is going nowhere? Whether it’s a fight with your spouse, a family member or a friend, with constant interruptions and heated accusations, the initial problem only escalates.
You talk, but don’t feel heard. You explain, but don’t feel understood.
So how do you get your point across?
How do you resolve a fight with so much tension?
Here are 3 ways to more effectively communicate during a difficult conversation.
1. The Purpose of Listening
One of the hardest things to do in the heat of the moment is to actually listen.
If you're anything like me, you may feel the need to get our point across at all costs.
But this can hinder the effectiveness of the argument.
Listening to truly hear what the other person is saying is one of the most effective ways to ease the tension in a fight.
Let me explain what this means.
Many times, we listen while simultaneously planning the next thing to say. When our spouse starts discussing the dirty laundry, we plan to explain all the laundry we’ve done that week before they even finish their sentence.
And as soon as they finish, if not before, we launch into our side of the story. But this results with the other person feeling unheard and even more upset.
Tension increases when we feel unheard.
So to solve this problem, slow down the pace of the argument.
Listen to what the other person is saying. Don’t listen in order to find the perfect comeback or response, but listen to hear what they have to say and seek to understand their side.
When they notice that you are truly listening, the tension will ease.
2. How You Say It Matters
When you’re upset, the easiest thing to do is to think of how you were wronged. We all do it. But, then the accusations fly.
“You didn’t make me feel special.”
“You didn’t do the dishes.”
“You don’t care how I feel.”
The one thing these all have in common is the result.
Accusations in the middle of a fight only put the other person on the defensive. They feel attacked and that they must defend themselves.
This escalates the argument beyond the initial problem itself. Now, there is the added attack and defense element which will cause the tension to skyrocket.
Instead, if you transform these statements to be about you and your feelings, it eases tension and cuts to the real problem.
“I don’t feel special when…”
“I feel overwhelmed when I have to do all the chores.”
“I don’t feel cared about.”
They may seem cheesy, but they work. When you phrase your feelings this way, you put the other person in a position to care instead of defend themselves.
When you eliminate the attacks, the argument becomes effective. This is how you can work to truly resolve a problem no matter who is at fault.
3. To Truly Love
Finally, we must consider what it is to love someone. Love isn’t about receiving all that we expect. Love is about giving and serving another.
Love is an action, not a privilege. Remember this truth in an argument or fight.
Are you seeking to understand where the other person is coming from? Even if you believe they are wrong, empathizing with why they may have acted a certain way will immediately ease the anger inside you.
It does not take away the fault, but it will help you to forgive and to respond more calmly.
Are you being led by pride or humility? Pride is the root cause of so many arguments. When we refuse to let down our defenses to protect our own image, we set the scene for a fight. With pride leading you, a fight will escalate.
But when you act in humility, you will find that the tension drops and there is a greater openness in the conversation.
Love others above yourself. If you’ve made a mistake, you would want the grace of another. Oftentimes, in the midst of another’s grace, we find the courage to face our pride and admit our wrongs.
When you are in a fight that only seems to be growing out of control, consider these three things. It may be difficult, but the resulting resolution will be worth it.