Arguments are inevitable in life. It’s how we end them that counts.
Knowing how to fight fair, with class and integrity, will take you a long way.
You’ll have better quality relationships, gain the respect of your peers, and avoid a ton of unnecessary stress.
In this article, I’ll walk you through some simple phrases one can use to end an argument constructively.
Remember, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong about disagreeing with people, it’s the way you go about it that will leave a mark.
Let’s get to it!
1) “Let’s agree to disagree.”
As tempting as it is to engage in prolonged, heated discussions, it’s almost never worth it… and mostly pointless.
From my experience, if a person has a certain set of political or religious beliefs, there’s pretty much no changing their mind, particularly if your approach is through spirited debate.
Sometimes, you just have to save yourself the trouble and let it go, salvaging that relationship while you still can.
I visited my mom in Arizona late last year.
She remarried an ex-Marine about fifteen years ago and largely due to his impact, her socio-political views have drastically changed in the time we’ve been apart.
Today, we’re nearly polar opposites on the political spectrum.
When we do get to see each other, I have to make it a point to never bring up politics. And vice versa.
Unfortunately, during this trip, the discussion somehow veered toward the world’s state of affairs.
Things went from friendly to heated really quickly.
Dormant feelings resurfaced, and my disillusionment with her deeply opposing views came roaring back.
Fortunately, after a conversational lull mid-argument, we mutually “agreed to disagree,” and got on with the day, avoiding a stain on our brief time together.
From that point on, we only discussed apolitical and neutral topics like family, work, or sports, quietly vowing never to open that contentious can of worms again.
2) “I see where you’re coming from, even if we don’t agree.”
Not everyone has the character to be willing to take the high road, so if you’re able to accomplish this, then good on you.
You’re establishing yourself as the bigger person.
By telling someone “I see where you’re coming from,” you’re also indicating empathy and understanding for their perspective, while still firmly holding your ground.
You might not be changing any minds, but at least you’ll be gaining respect.
3) “Thank you for sharing your perspective.”
It’s easy to get emotional and fiery in the throes of a heated debate, but chances are, you’ll end up going in circles, particularly when you sport a combative demeanor.
Maintaining composure and kindness in the height of battle takes some real character and integrity.
With “thank you for sharing your perspective,” you show the opposing person you still value their opinions and input, immediately diffusing tension.
Kill them with kindness.
4) “We both want what’s best; we just see different ways of getting there.”
Extreme cases aside, just because a person holds certain opinions doesn’t instantly make them a shitty person.
In my thirty-plus years on the planet, I’ve come to the conclusion that most people are inherently good.
Everyone has their reasons for forming opinions, be it from personal experiences, family, friends, media indoctrination, or what have you.
If people bother to look past the superficial during their interactions, chances are they’ll find a decent person there with a similar set of wants and needs as everyone else.
At the end of the day, most people want the same basic things, despite having different methods of expressing and achieving them.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that the majority of conservatives and the majority of liberals harbor similar core desires: stability, friendship, good health, and a low-stress lifestyle.
So by striving to find common ground in an argument, you’re making the other person see the bigger picture again.
It shows you’re the rare person who values compromise and cooperation over trivial squabbles.
5) “Let’s take a break and come back to this later with fresh eyes.”
When emotions run high, this naturally will cloud people’s judgment.
Sleeping on it will allow both parties to reset emotionally and mentally, and approach the situation with far more clarity later on.
I can’t tell you how many intense disagreements I’ve had with my girlfriend.
When it reaches a boiling point, I know I have two main options: either I can continue fighting, and risk damaging the relationship permanently or I walk away and talk about it later when both of us have thoroughly simmered down.
So as tempting as it is to give in and resume battle, I now consciously always make it a point to give us both a timeout.
This can mean a few minutes a few hours, or even a few days–but once the dust settles, reason will almost always prevail.
6) “I love you/respect you, no matter what.”
When it comes to loved ones, sometimes you just have to let your pride down and see past the argument.
As long as they’re not hurting anyone, then the live-and-let-live approach is often my default.
Like I said, everyone has their own reasons for forming certain views or ways of seeing things.
In the case of my mom, for example, the influence of her spouse was quite powerful.
Her views on the border, immigrants, or climate change, may not align with mine but that’s inconsequential in the greater scheme of things.
To my stepfather’s credit, he’s consistently loved and cared for her all these years–that’s what ultimately matters to me.
Remember, everyone is on their own unique journey through life–and different encounters result in contrasting opinions.
The next time you want to judge someone after an argument, think of this little nugget of wisdom from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novel The Great Gatsby: “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone… just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
The prolific French novelist Alexandre Dumas once said “Never argue, you won’t convince anyone. Opinions are like nails; the more you hit them, the more you push them in.”
I have to agree with Mr. Dumas’ sentiment.
Once you come to the realization that most feuds aren’t worth it, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and energy. Life is too short for petty disputes anyway.
So rather than unnecessarily igniting fires, prolonging grudges, and burning bridges, always first seek diplomacy instead.
And an ideal place to start is knowing how to end your arguments gracefully. You got this.