10 Ways to Have Difficult Conversations and Avoid Arguing

When we’re talking about politics, especially with people who have opposing political views, it can be hard to avoid arguing. But we’re here to help you realize that it doesn’t have to be an emotional disaster when you have difficult conversations. In fact, we’re here to help you realize that having honest conversations doesn’t have to be super difficult. Here’s how you can have difficult conversations and avoid arguing as we gear up for the election.

Language to Remember during Difficult Conversations

First, let’s talk about what not to say. Leave the word “wrong” out of your vocabulary during difficult conversations. Remember that everyone is entitled to their own opinion when it comes to politics. Their opinion isn’t “wrong” – it just might not align with your morals and values which are your own opinion. So, to avoid being hostile and avoid arguing, avoid saying, “You’re wrong!”

Instead, try to understand where they are coming from, and use non-combative language. Here are some things you can say:

  • Why is this important to you?
  • Help me understand your point of view.
  • Can I share my experiences on why I have a different perspective? 

Use language that shows that you want to learn about where the other person is coming from, and you should also try to be empathetic. Of course, we should also try to avoid raising our voice or getting aggressive if we’re trying to keep the peace and avoid arguing during difficult conversations.

Mindfulness Techniques to Avoid Arguing

Mindfulness can help you keep your cool during difficult conversations. Take a quick pause during the conversation to notice how you’re feeling. Are you angry? Are you upset? Are you tensed up? Take a moment to simply notice this. Acknowledge the feeling, and let it go. Don’t judge the emotion. Make sure you stay in the present moment. 

You can also be mindful and intentional during the conversation by actively listening and pausing before you speak. After the other person says their part, count to three, take a deep breath, and then say what you want to say. This will help you stay calm and help you avoid arguing because you won’t be blurting out the first thing that comes to mind, which might be something hostile. This mindfulness hack will help you appear much more calm and civil while you’re having difficult conversations. You can look at using mindfulness during these conversations as a means of self-improvement, too. 

Finding Connection During a Difficult Conversation

Even when we have opposing viewpoints to somebody, we can usually find some common ground, which can help us avoid arguing. Finding a connection during difficult conversations can help us remember that everyone is human and at our core, we usually want the same things. Lean in. Understand. Of course, we know this is easier said than done.

Think about the other person’s point of view. What’s really driving them? Most of the time there are a lot of emotions based on personal experiences. If you can discuss what emotions or experiences are driving somebody’s political views, you can likely find a connection with them and even some common ground. You can deepen the connection by sharing your own experiences. Speaking about these experiences during difficult conversations can help you both have a caring stance rather than an aggressive stance and avoid arguing. 

How to Discuss Politics and Avoid Arguing

One of the key tips we have to avoid arguing is to avoid trying to change their mind. Forcing them to switch their opinion to yours likely won’t end well. So don’t try to change their mind. Seeking to understand someone’s point of view first during difficult conversations can create a healthy conversation versus argument.

Remember to approach difficult conversations with respect. If you start off the conversation in a judgemental, belittling way, you’re setting yourself up for an unfriendly conversation. Additionally, you don’t want to come off as lecturing the other person. This should be a give and take, where each person gets to say what they want to say, and the other person will be actively listening during the other’s turn. The better you can keep this as a levelheaded conversation, the more likely you are you be able to avoid arguing.

Keeping the Peace during Difficult Conversations

Go into the conversation with a simple goal: Be kind.

One way to really keep the peace and be kind is to ask yourself: “What’s more important in this conversation: Being ‘right’ or the relationship itself? If the conversation is with someone you care about, the answer will most likely be that the relationship is more important. Use this as a driving force to avoid arguing. 

Part of this process is knowing when to end the conversation. After you’ve both gotten your points across and tried to see each other’s point of view, it’s possible that you still aren’t seeing eye to eye at all.

If it comes down to it and you need to end the conversation if it’s getting too confrontational or unfriendly, you can try to segue out of the discussion by saying:

  • Our relationship is important to me. Let’s agree to disagree on this.
  • I respect you and your opinion, but we don’t see eye to eye on this and I don’t want to argue with you.
  • My relationship with you is important and I value our friendship so I don’t want to get in a fight.

What We Can Learn from "Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown

Over at The Daily Shifts, we love Brené Brown, and she has some amazing advice that we can take and learn from. If you’re interested in further reading about difficult conversations and more, we recommend checking out “Dare to Lead” and “Braving The Wilderness.” 

Here are some quick tips that you can use for having difficult conversations, from “Dare to Lead,” as outlined by The Growth Faculty:

  • Forget about your ego. Stay curious instead by listening and asking questions.
  • Remember your personal values and stick to them.
  • Don’t just criticize someone. Instead, aim to contribute.
  • Be empathetic, but don’t try to “fix” somebody.

The bottom line is that difficult conversations are just a part of life – especially these days leading up to the election when tension is so high. When having these political conversations, don’t aim to be perfect. Nobody’s perfect, and these conversations can be tough. We all run into roadblocks

The more you have difficult conversations, the less difficult they will get. Over time, you will become more comfortable and confident in your ability to discuss politics while you also avoid arguing.

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