Updated: Oct 3
An argument can either help to release pent up frustrations and ensure there’s no need to hold on to resentments, or it can add to feelings of frustration, anger leaving each person with a sense of not being heard, seen or validated.
The key to success is how you communicate.
An argument is defined as a discussion or disagreement in which people express different opinions. The problem is in the attachment to being right or making the other wrong.
At its best, an argument is simply an opportunity for two people to express their views. Even if an argument is heated, it can help release pent up frustrations and ensure there’s no need to hold on to resentments. In order for this to work, it's important that both parties communicate from an adult perspective, are able to have their say, and feel heard. This often doesn’t work because of learnt or adopted unhealthy behaviour that can lead to a breakdown in relationship.
It's important that both parties communicate from an adult perspective, are able to have their say, and feel heard.
An unhealthy argument
Take, for example the experience of a dominant partner or parent coming over as controlling. Many of us may have experienced this scenario and this can trigger many different emotions including feeling angry, sad, confused and vulnerable – when all anyone wants ultimately is to feel loved and safe. Unfortunately, many parents or partners are ill equipped or untrained in how to deal with the coping strategies that have been set up in childhood. These can include defensiveness, silence or any other behaviours that may present themselves in a less than functional situation.
There are some fundamental flaws in this scenario:
a) it is not an argument because the child or our inner child feels unable to express their needs
b) the parent is unable to see things from the child's perspective
c) it is not the job of the parent to try to counsel their own child or partner even if they are trained in this way.
Empowering the child (including your own, inner child)
Imagine what would happen if, instead, the child was given the opportunity to express their emotions, and was able to communicate and feel heard. It would surely be more empowering, and enable the child to avoid feeling like a victim. It would help encourage them to develop skills in putting forward an effective argument. And this may well help them develop healthier relationships in future - both on a personal and work level.
How we get our point across
If, as the communicator, you're not getting your argument across effectively, then it’s your responsibility to look at how to hone the required skills. Firstly, getting your point across is more than just a verbal dialogue. You communicate with your body, tonality and eye contact. To be aware of how you hold your body, when you raise your voice, and if you are able to look someone in the eye, is a step closer to being able to adapt your body language to increase rapport and help yourself be heard.
The common mistake I often witness is trying to change the other persons behaviour. What I do see is when one person in the relationship is willing to reflect and let go of their own inherited patterns, choose a different or new way or responding, this in turn seems to impact in a more positive way the reaction of the other person.
Firstly, it’s important to realise when someone is not reacting well to something that has been said to discover more about what needs to change or how to meet your own needs first in order to be able to come from a different perspective.
Next, to be aware of how the Past can affect the way in which we communicate especially if there is an accumulation of pent up frustration that may be inappropriate to the present situation or person.
Another element to explore is Patterns of behaviour that have been set up in early childhood that may be hindering or getting in the way of maintaining a heathy relationship.
Anger is just one example of a pattern that may have been held onto or even used as a defensive mechanism and is not always easy to deal with either when it is coming from someone else or even when it erupts like a volcano and seems out of control.
'When you can let go and not take someone else’s anger personally, and instead just see it as anger being expressed, it can help relieve the tension that often builds up in a heated debate.'
How to know when you may need help
Looking back to your childhood can help you understand some strategies and learnt behaviours that may have been adopted over time. For example, the experience of a dominant parent, or even an overprotective parent. All these things may have lead to an inability to put forward a healthy argument or to communicate effectively.
In this case it may help to express old resentments in a safe environment, without being caught up in a battle of wills or a conflict of personalities.
Many creative solutions exist if you have a willingness to learn and adopt a different approach. They often need a great deal of patience and practice.
Key steps to a healthy argument:
Agree to disagree (this is easier said than done)
Resist the urge to take things personally
Give the other person time to have their say
Understand there are often two valid sides
Enjoy the process of releasing and letting go
The ability to see both sides of the argument
In the realisation that it is not necessary to agree with someone else’s opinion, or make someone believe your side of an argument in order to have a fulfilling relationship. This means that there is not necessarily a right or wrong way. There are just different ways and differences of opinion.
When you can let go and not take someone else’s anger personally, and instead just see it as anger being expressed, it can help relieve the tension that often builds up in a heated debate.
Often the other party just needs to be able to express how they feel and sometimes what they need. The biggest problem I witness is one person wanting to argue their point, leaving the other feeling invalidated.
Simply reflecting back what has been said gives the other person to feel heard to and helps the listener to step into the other person’s shoes for a moment. This sounds easy and yet I experience to be the most challenging when one or both parties are what can be called 'triggered'.
back what you heard word for word gives the other person time to either clarify or change what was said. Also asking if they want to say any more, enables any misunderstandings to be resolved and gives an opportunity to fully express. When we’ve had an opportunity to communicate our feelings, we’re more likely to be in a place to hear what the other person needs to say.
Learn to enjoy a heated discussion instead of taking in personally or making it personal.
When you can enjoy the process, it can offer a sense of relief that helps you feel calmer and more at ease with yourself. This can also change the way others respond in your presence.
It may sound easy, but it does require diligence, discipline and self-awareness. The first thing is to be willing to make changes, let go of old ways of being, and to be patient with yourself and the process. It also helps to have some support, expertise and guidance from someone who knows the challenges and pitfalls along the way. The result will be the ability to grow and learn from experiences and situations that may not seem like it at the time, but ultimately are gifts.
If you would like help to release past trauma and learn to improve your communication skills, Gill offers one to one Journey work.
I now offer online Zoom courses for individuals and couples to learn and implement the skills required to create a more healthier communication style.
FREE initial twenty minute discovery call.
Ask about regular support zoom calls. This includes new tools to access more abundance within the areas loving relationships, health and finance. First two to three zoom calls FREE.
To find out more, contact Gillian:
+44 7866 037951