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How to Argue Without Losing Your Cool

Though moments get heated and insults start flying, it's best to learn how to argue without losing your cool.

By Ossiana TepfenhartPublished 7 years ago 8 min read

Learning the art of arguing wisely is something that people need to do before they get into a long term relationship. Without being able to argue in a calm, effective, and assertive manner, the chances of resentment creeping into your relationship are incredibly high.

After all, there's a reason why so many unhealthy couples are known for having loud, blowout fights — or known for not fighting at all until their relationship explodes in a sudden breakup.

If you regularly find yourself in these kinds of relationships, it could be that you just don't know how to argue without losing your cool. This guide will help you learn to argue effectively and also learn when it's best to walk away.

The first thing that you need to realize is that you should try to approach the problem as a team.

One of the most common argument mistakes people make when talking to their partner is to make the argument sound like an attack on them. This automatically puts the person on the defensive.

However, you can quickly change their attitude into a more positive and cooperative one by using a handful of psychological tricks that have been proven to help you keep your cool when arguing. Here are some that can seriously improve your ability to communicate effectively:

  • Avoid "you" statements. Ever notice how hard it is to not feel attacked when people pick out habits you do? It's really jarring, which is why most psychologists tell people to avoid "you statements." Rather, it's better to talk with a focus on both of you. So, instead of saying, "you need to..." say "we need to..."
  • Hold their hand when you're arguing with a partner in a relationship. Studies have shown that holding your partner's hand can help calm them down and also helps them subconsciously understand that your relationship is one that's built on teamwork.
  • Keep arguments out of the bedroom — and far away from public eyes. Nothing can ruin the mood or worse, a relationship, like arguing at the wrong time or place. Arguing in the bedroom when you're about to go to sleep or in front of others is a good, quick way to build resentment, humiliate your partner, and cross the line into abuse.
  • Don't shout or raise your voice at your partner. We shouldn't have to explain this in an article on how to argue without losing your cool, but we have to, anyway. Raising your voice and shouting is the very definition of losing your cool on your partner — and therefore shouldn't happen in arguments, even if you are angry at them.
  • Insulting your partner is off limits. We get it. Being angry might make you want to do things unlike yourself. Much like raising your voice, insulting your partner is defined as "losing your cool" and becoming a verbally abusive jerk. If you feel the need to do this, leave the room or just break up with them.
  • Make sure to still be polite with them. Things like saying "thank you," and telling them that you appreciate them go a long, long way in arguments. Most people with healthy relationships do this, even when arguments get heated.
  • "Fight fair" with your partner. Tell them that you both have the right to excuse yourselves if you feel heated. Don't bring up things that have already been settled in the past. Don't rope others into the argument.
  • If you have to issue out an ultimatum with your partner, understand that you may need to just break up with them. Ultimatums are not healthy, ever. They lead to resentment and they also lead to unhealthy dynamics. Unless you want an angry, resentful partner, you'll avoid this at all costs.

Make sure to take turns talking with your partner.

Ingrid V. Wells, "Loud and Clear"

If you're just learning how to argue without losing your cool, you need to make sure you don't make one of the most common mistakes of all. Most people, when they argue, argue at someone rather than arguing with them.

When you argue at someone, you basically talk over them or talk at them without listening to what they have to say. This isn't so much arguing as it is lecturing or even steamrolling your partner.

Arguing without listening isn't just disrespectful; it's a very ugly thing to do. It builds resentment, and also shows your partner that you don't respect them as equals in the relationship.

If enough resentment builds up, there's no saying that your partner won't get angry, belligerent, and downright unwilling to do anything with you. Therefore, doing this regularly can end up destroying a relationship pretty quickly.

Taking time to listen, understand, and comprehend your partner's side is crucial when it comes to arguing in a calm and effective manner. You might actually find that your partner is right — or you may be able to find a good compromise between the two of you.

Be open to compromise, but keep limits on what you're willing to negotiate on.

In a typical relationship, you can't always have things the way you want them to be. Sometimes, you need to compromise in order to keep things working between you two. You simply can't learn how to argue without losing your cool by learning how to compromise.

When you're arguing with your partner over something, try to come up with ideas that could meet both of your needs together. Or, better yet, try to come up with a working solution that makes the impossible slightly more possible.

For example, if you're arguing over wedding venues, you may want to try to figure out how to save money on your wedding day so you can afford the venue you want without breaking the bank.

However, there's a limit to how much you can negotiate before you end up just giving up everything you care about for the sake of the relationship. Have hard limits, and stick to them.

Part of learning how to argue without losing your cool also deals with picking your battles.

Photo by Alexandra Gavillet

Not all arguments are worth winning. Sometimes, it's not really about who's right or wrong, but whether or not you're willing to compromise on the topic at hand. Therefore, part of mastering the art of how to argue healthily deals with learning when to argue — and when there's no point to it.

Here are some tips for newbies that might not know when it's time to argue.

  • Don't be overly afraid to argue, and don't be afraid to tell your partner when they're doing something you don't like. Part of establishing your boundaries deals with making sure people understand how you want to be treated. If you silently agree to do everything they ask you to do, that will make you resentful — and that resentment will build until you explode. It's not a good look.
  • Understand what boundaries are — and respect one another's. Boundaries are important relationship rules that you should never ignore, because it makes your partner uncomfortable, violated, upset, or hurt. Everyone has personal boundaries that need to be respected, and most people will usually tell you what they are, implicitly or explicitly. In a healthy argument, you will respect your partner's boundaries, and make sure that you know what they are...and they will do the same for you. If you or your partner can't respect personal boundaries, there's no point in arguing with them — or staying in the relationship at all.
  • Identify which arguments don't really matter in the long run, and which do. Most little things aren't worth fighting major battles over, but you better bet that big things are worth bringing up. For example, arguing for half an hour over what to have for dinner isn't necessary. On the other hand, major life decisions such as where to move and what to do for the mortgage do deserve an argument.
  • Learn to say "no." Part of arguing in a healthy manner is being able to tell your partner "no" once in a while. "No" is a totally full sentence, and is crucial to having good boundaries in any relationship.
  • Also learn when you need to stand up for yourself. You are not a bad person if you tell people that you don't appreciate the way someone is treating you, and to a point, it's actually part of being in a normal relationship. If you don't stand up for yourself, people will walk all over you without even realizing it.

The last thing you need to realize for knowing how to argue without losing your cool is understanding when to walk away.

As much as it may hurt for you to realize, not all relationships are worth saving. You can play fair and play nice until the cows come home, but if the person you're with won't give you space to cool down, continues to berate you, and doesn't accept boundaries, it will not do you an ounce of good.

There's no point in trying to argue healthily with someone who's abusive towards you, nor is there a point in being with someone who acts that way when angry. There's only so much that you can do to try to salvage a relationship.

If your partner keeps pressing certain issues that you aren't comfortable with, treats you poorly, refuses to take no for an answer, or lashes out in anger whenever you try to have a calm discussion, you can't save this relationship.

It takes two to tango, and if your partner doesn't want to work things out with you in a healthy manner or if you are at an impasse that you cannot compromise on, you need to walk away — as much as it hurts you to do so.

Moreover, it's also worth noting that learning when to walk away also means that you need to learn how to walk out of a room to collect yourself before you blow up at your partner. If you feel you're about to lose it during an argument, it's far better to just get up and tell your partner that you need a moment to yourself.

If your partner won't let you collect for a moment in peace, then refer to the other form of walking away.

At the end of the day, you should do your best to tackle problems as a team.

In a healthy, happy relationship you and your partner are a team. Therefore, learning how to argue without losing your cool tends to mean learning how to work with one another to attain a common goal.

If your goals differ, or if your partner isn't willing to be respectful, it may be time to leave. However, with a little bit of compromise and respectful dialogue, you'll probably find that just about anything can be overcome with minimal issue.

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About the Creator

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of New Jersey. This is her work account. She loves gifts and tips, so if you like something, tip her!

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    Ossiana TepfenhartWritten by Ossiana Tepfenhart

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