Proper Etiquette for Arguing: What Happens When I Raise My Voice In An Argument With Someone?
What to do when you disagree...
Humans are very social creatures...even the most solitary of us generally wish for some quality companionship and the majority of people seek out some form of social interaction whether it be mass socialization such as in a club or more one-on-one like game nights with friends or casual dates. Unfortunately, along with these social habits also come disagreements, and these disagreements can often turn into all-out arguments.
Arguments can take shape in several different ways...sometimes it's just a quiet reprimand from someone who feels wronged that results in a quick verbal exchange, sometimes it's a passive-aggressive ordeal where one or the other party non-verbally expresses their displeasure with the other, but the ones that really stick in the memory are the ones that turn into a verbal (which can sometimes accellerate to physical) battle where both sides must face off and hash it out. These out-and-out verbal assaults can be very damaging, or they can be very constructive, it all depends on how you go about dealing with the situation.
Basics of Conduct
First, you can not expect the other party to govern themselves well. I don't care if the person is older, more responsible, or has a special authority over you that does not mean that they will conduct themselves well in an argument; the only person in this situation that you can control is yourself, therefore it is up to you to do everything you can to keep the argument within constructive boundaries.
Avoid Acceleration. A therapist of mine once told me that if one person retains a level head throughout an argument the other will lose steam very quickly. You know what? He was absolutely right. I've noticed in arguments with my significant other that if he raises his voice I am immediately tempted to raise my own voice, often in an attempt to make myself heard, the same happens when I inadvertently raise my voice first...all this really does is encourage a scream fest that will upset kids, animals, and concerned neighbors and do absolutely nothing to further your point or make the other person listen. Chances are the other person in the argument is looking for points to challenge you on and so is going to listen to what you say at whatever volume; if you find yourself trying to talk over the other person, hold that thought and let them say their piece, when they stop talking ask if they're done (politely) and state your point.
Try not to point fingers. If there is a continuing issue with no clear person at fault, try not to blame the other person. I'm going to use as an example my own arguments about cleaning the house...when my significant other complains that the house isn't very clean, it's extremely tempting to say "well if you'd pick up your dirty clothes..." or "if you'd take your dishes to the sink when you're done with them...", but all this will do is prompt his own blaming responses such as "well if you would put a little more time into your cleaning..." or "maybe if you put that out of the kid's reach..." and nothing can be solved when all you're doing is throwing blame around.
Do not gloat over your victories. If you make a good point, great! However, if you decide to taunt, deride, or in other ways "rub in" your victory or continue to refer back to it "well you were wrong there, so why not here?" it's only going to discourage compromise and the other party will be less inclined to admit you're right on issues.
Don't be afraid to be wrong. I can not stress this enough. So many stupid arguments can wage on for days, weeks, even years because neither party is willing to admit that they're wrong. Hey, no one likes to be wrong, but what does it hurt to concede the point sometimes? Pick your battles and be willing to back down if it's not something you absolutely must achieve. Remember, points of opinion generally can not be successfully debated and if it's a point of contention there's no reason to even try.
Graciously backing down. This is a tricky one and varies according to the situation and the personalities of the people involved. The most effective way to gear down out of "argument mode" I've found is to admit that I might be wrong (note: you don't necessarily have to say you ARE wrong, just might be) or admit the other person has a good point or a valid grievance. The important thing here is to cool down enough to get to the constructive part of the argument...for this part you both have to have a cool head, let go of your anger as well as possible, and be ready to sit down with an open mind and discuss ways you both can ensure the argument never happens again. Do not walk away! I can't stress this enough...it doesn't do anyone any good if you just drop an argument without resolving it, you must stick to it until you can come up with a resolution or it will just come up again and you and the other person will be uncomfortable and likely come up with further grievances before the subject is brought up again.
Ways to Cope During an Argument
I know it's very difficult to keep a level head in an argument sometimes...believe me, I know, as a teenager I spent time as an inpatient in a behavioral institute due largely to my anger problems. There are steps you can take to make sure you keep that cool...you may not be able to implement them all but if you're in a close relationship with the person you're arguing with make sure to discuss with them during a non-argumentative time some of the things you need to be allowed to do during an argument to keep from getting overly angry.
Take a time out. This is the most important thing I've ever gotten into the habit of doing during the course of an argument. Definitely make sure to discuss this with your significant other before utilizing it...preferably during a non-contentious time, but if you have to use it in the middle of an argument when you haven't previously discussed it be sure to explain as calmly as possible what you're doing and why, such as "I'm feeling extremely angry at the moment and I need to take a moment to cool down, please excuse me for just five minutes". During a thorough discussion of time outs (which can be done during your "constructive period" after an argument) be sure to set parameters for length of the time out, how often you are each allowed to take time outs, and what conduct will be during those time out. For instance, when I need a time out I tell my significant other and then go upstairs to my work space, this space is set up in a way to be calming to me and is the only area that is "me" space. During the time I am upstairs he is not allowed to say anything to me nor I to him, but as per set agreements I can not stay upstairs any longer than ten minutes. This is enough time for me to utilize my breathing techniques and other "cool down" exercises and be ready to come back and work toward a resolution of the conflict.
Think things through before you say them. If you consider your words carefully, not only will you have fewer thoughtless comments slip out but you will also be forced to think more internally and objectively as opposed to emotionally...the more emotion you throw into an argument the messier it'll be, so try to focus on staying collected and don't say things just to hurt or anger the other person.
Pros and Cons of Arguing
Obviously there are many ways arguments can be negative...they stir up contention, hurtful things may be said that are hard to let go, if it gets physical people or things could get hurt (note: if it gets physical it IS admissible to walk away...you need to be safe and the argument can always be continued later over the phone or when both parties have calmed down), but believe it or not arguments can be extremely beneficial.
Arguments can be constructive if you see them through to the end...the end is not where one or the other gives enough ground to declare a "winner", it is the part where both of you have calmed down enough to coolly talk out your differences and discuss a solution. Any argument where there is no solution is a failure, but whatever the problem was there can be some sort of agreement reached. I'd like to refer back to the house cleaning argument with my significant other...in such a case our resolution can be something like us deciding that he will pick up his clothes and put his dinner dishes in the sink, and I will be sure to keep our son out of his model-making supplies and wash a load of laundry every evening. Oftentimes solutions are simple, but not always...it's important to remember that they always do exist.
So why does it take an argument? How many out there can say that they're totally open about everything that bothers them, and totally receptive to everything the people around them are saying? Arguments are a way to get pent-up feelings about issues out in the open where they can be dealt with...the unfortunate side effect is that they pretty much always start out very emotional and it may take a lot of effort to bring those emotions down to a reasonable level.
Finally, remember that we all argue. Just because you argue it doesn't mean that you're failing in a relationship (whether it be a significant other, friend, or family member), it just means that there are always going to be issues and you must be receptive when they come up and be willing to work toward a resolution and follow through on whatever solution is decided.
Thank you for reading this hub; now I would really appreciate it if you would help me keep the conversation going. Please post a comment below answering the question, what is the best possible outcome you can envision from an argument?
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