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How to Solve Conflicts Without Arguing

Updated on February 2, 2014

We’ve all been there. One little disagreement gets blown out into an all-out battle-royal rife with criticism, blame and even name-calling. One issue gets balled up with 20 other things until no one remembers what started the fight and no one wants to even discuss it anymore. Nothing gets resolved and hurt feelings build up. This is the way most of us were taught to disagree. Or rather, this is what happens when we’re not taught how to properly solve our disagreements.

We argue because we have a problem that needs to be dealt with. To solve a problem, we need to have clear communication and a willingness to work things out. We also need a straight-forward technique for constructive problem-solving.

Below, you will find 8 steps to help you resolve problems without getting into an argument.

1. Get Control of Yourself

Breathe, relax and if you must, walk away from the situation until you are both calm enough to address the issue rationally.

2. Pick One Issue

Sometimes the little things build up, but it is important to deal with one issue at a time, otherwise the situation can break down quickly.

3. Use "I" Language

When we use statements with the word “you” in them, the other person becomes defensive or closes up. For example, “You make me crazy!” or “You never listen!” will start a fight. They also remove you from your responsibility in the situation and it is always important to take ownership of your thoughts, feelings and actions.

“I” statements are clear declarations. A statement such a, “I feel disrespected when I’m not invited to family functions until the night before” is difficult to argue with. You’ve owned your feelings toward a situation.

4. Ask for the Behaviour You Want

The best way to resolve a problem is to offer solutions. Tell the other person what you would like to happen so the situation can be resolved. “I would like to be notified at least 48 hours in advance so I can make sure my schedule is clear” is a reasonable request.

5. Stick to Your Issue

Remember to stay on track. You are dealing with one issue only, so stick to it. you can tackle other issues (one at a time) at later dates.

6. Listen and Restate

This is where things most often go sideways for folks. You will need to display a lot of composure. The other person will most likely try to argue, especially when this is a new technique and they are used to fighting.

Allow the other person to have their say, but stay firm. Don’t let them drag in other issues or diminish the importance of your issue. Once they have said their piece, reiterate your “I” statement.

You may have to go through this stage a few times before you can move on.

7. Negotiate

Some situations may require negotiation. This is a chance to explore what can be done to help the other person better respect you and your wishes. The resolution should be one that respects both parties.

8. Seal the Deal

Once you’ve decided what responsibilities you both will be accepting to make your solution work, make a definitive statement to add clarity to what you are both agreeing to:

I will __________________.

You will __________________.

Thank you to Jade Arcade for allowing me to use the above photo of him. Jade is a comic illustrator, artist, writer, actor and animator. To learn more about him, you can read my Interview with Jade and visit his website, Jade Arcade's Universe to view his latest work.

It may help to print up a "Cue Card" to help you remember and smoothly move through these 8 steps. Remember to stay calm and focused during this process. With practice, it will be come easier for all involved.

© 2012 Rosa Marchisella


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    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 5 years ago from Canada

      Weeeeell, "shotgun" would have made for a very short hub and I probably would have been flagged ;-) False history is a great one to make a person literally crazy over time. Not cool.

    • ptosis profile image

      ptosis 5 years ago from Arizona

      Read the Title: thought of a shotgun. Unfair fighting tactics, scorched earth arguing, Yup been there, the one I hate the most: false history.

    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 5 years ago from Canada


    • EZ Gluten Free profile image

      EZ Gluten Free 5 years ago

      If more people implemented these techniques the world would be a nicer place.

    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 5 years ago from Canada

      Thank you!

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Great job!

    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 5 years ago from Canada

      I'm so glad this is of use to you! Thanks for our support!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Excellent suggestions for resolving conflicts. I will be using these, especially #4. Great subject for a hub. Voted up and sharing!

    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 5 years ago from Canada

      Thank you!

    • kandamom9912 profile image

      kandamom9912 5 years ago from Ohio

      Good list. It definitely can simplify a disagreement!