Arguments can be difficult to navigate, no matter who they're with. Some people like to argue and feel energized afterward, while others dread even the idea of an argument. They can be tricky because you have to contend with how you want to present yourself, the message you want to get across, how the other person will handle things, and what they'll have to say as well. There are things confident people never do in an argument, however, that can help you approach a disagreement, hash things out, and move forward. If you keep these things in mind going in, you'll emerge from an argument, no matter how serious or seemingly insignificant, far more successfully than if you don't.
Approaching an argument with confidence, so long as you do so with some of these techniques, is also approaching an argument with some grace and poise. Keeping yourself calm and collected, listening — really listening — to what the other person is saying, and not destroying the relationship you have with the other person can all help you make it through the argument without losing your dignity — or the other person's respect. It can set you up to move forward and get things done. Arguments happen, but you don't have cower and you don't have to melt down.
1. Don't Listen
Listening to the other person, the person with whom you're arguing, is important. Yes, you have things you'd like to say yourself, things that you think are also very important, but hearing them out is important too. "Confident people are able to listen to what another person has to say even if they disagree with the entire argument," Kerri Wall, a mediator and conflict coach, tells Romper via email. "Listening to someone and validating their perspective doesn't mean you agree with it."
2. Get Defensive
Getting defensive doesn't work and confident people don't do it during arguments. "Confident people feel sure about their view and their information so they do not become defensive about another person's view and they are open to hearing it and open to learning more," Wall says. Just listen to what they're saying first, state your case, and refrain from taking the bait and getting defensive.
3. Burn Bridges
"A confident person is solid about what's important, namely the way these two people need to work together or the purpose of their relationship," Wall says. If this is a person that you'll need to work with in the future or a friend or relative, chances are you'll need (or want) to interact with them again. If you destroy that relationship during your argument, it can be very difficult to repair and rebuild it moving forward.
4. Lose Their Cool
People who are feeling confident do not lose their cool when they're arguing. It's unproductive. Reacting to each and every dig makes it difficult to sort things out or come to any kind of conclusion. "As we learn to catch ourselves reacting in these situations the faster we will catch ourselves in the future," Phil Weaver, of the Learning Success System, tells Romper by email. "It becomes a skill like anything else. Our non-reacting muscle gets stronger each time."
5. Focus On Winning
"Confident people tend to focus on having a productive argument rather than 'winning' (that's one of the big differences between a confident person and an aggressive person)," Lauren Sergy, a communication expert, speaker, and author, tells Romper in an email exchange. "They don't apologize for their opinions or viewpoints — they own them, but they'll also be willing to re-consider them if presented with compelling new information." Arguments aren't about winning or losing and if you think of them that way, you likely won't get much done.
6. Take Things Personally
Not taking things personally is really difficult, especially if the other person is trying to make things personal, but confident people don't do it. "They'll address the argument for what it is, and not for the people involved in it ('ad hominem attacks') for confident people, these issues rarely become personal," Amma Marfo, a speaker and facilitator who works with college students and professionals on areas such as conflict management and confidence, tells Romper in an email exchange. Keep some perspective and recognize that this argument, even if it seems personal, probably isn't actually about you. Don't get offended, don't get defensive, and don't lose your cool.
7. Apologize For No Reason
People who are feeling confident going into an argument only apologize when they have reason to do so. Many women apologize all the time. I, for one, have apologized to inanimate objects for bumping into them. Sorry is just an automatic reaction. If you're confident, however, you're not going to apologize unless you need to.
"For example, if a co-worker is having a bad day, it wouldn't be uncommon for a woman to say 'I'm so sorry.'" Dr. Deborah Searcy, Ph.D., a faculty member in the department of management at Florida Atlantic University. "But, she didn't actually do anything wrong to cause the bad day and thus [shouldn't] apologize. [R]eally what she is trying to say is 'I hear you and I empathize with you.' Don't apologize unless you actually did something wrong." Apologize — and mean it — if you did something wrong, but don't let 'sorry' become your catchphrase.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.