Apr 22, 2008

Defusing arguments quickly

Have you ever been in an argument and the situation becomes more acrimonious with each exchange? How do you stop that rapidly? Seth Godin has an interesting piece on his blog about this. Notice that he talks about written communication, but the same is true for oral communication also:
  • Accept the other person's point of view. In any given situation, no matter what feelings the other person conveys, she is right. She is conveying her sentiment of anger, frustration, fear, and so on. Telling a person that her feelings are wrong only exarcerbates the situation.
  • You don't have to agree with her feelings. Just because someone else has the right to harbour the feelings she wants, it does not mean that you have to agree with her.
  • Look for solutions. Once you've agreed with a person's feelings, they can't escalate them. think of little kids: why does teasing work so well? Because the person being teased reacts. If the person being teased stops reacting, the teaser gets bored an finds a new target. It's similar in a heated argument. Once you start accepting the other person's point of view, you take all the wind out of her sails. The only option left is to look at what can be done to make the situation better.

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