In a nutshell, the trick is: Don’t try to win, try to solve. These are the 4 components that I found are required to do this right.
1. Take your ego out of it
Our animal instincts will always tell us that winning means making others lose. Consequently, we often don’t care as much about truth or real progress as we care about being seen as the one who defeated the other party. This is destructive and makes the other party want to do the same to us. So, if we see that we can’t take our ego out of an argument, it’s usually better not to have the argument in the first place.
2. Avoid humiliation
Wanting to be seen as defeating someone else entails humiliating the other party as the loser. As social animals, few things are worse for us humans than humiliation – even in seemingly small doses. If the other party fears they may be humiliated, they only push back harder or just pretend to agree to avoid being shown off as the loser, neither of which solves the argument. Instead, show understanding with the other’s reasoning, and highlight possible flaws in their arguments with empathy.
3. Recognize the other
Arguments can quickly get heated, especially when they are about core beliefs. This can lead to a sort of mental tunnel vision, where one gets single-mindedly bent on attacking or defending a belief while losing sight of everything else. In other words, once arguments get heated in such a way, the parties effectively lose all empathy with one another and regress into a fight-or-flight mindset that all but ensures a lose-lose scenario. It is better to recognize the other and their standpoint by asking the right questions, rather than relentlessly pitting conflicting beliefs against each other.
4. Be on the same team
Are you in an argument where one will emerge the victor by making the other the loser, or are you trying to solve something together? This is what it ultimately comes down to. Once you succeeded in turning an argument into a team effort – that is when you have truly won it.
There you go – simple, right? Well, maybe not always. Our basic instincts can often stand in the way of solving arguments constructively. But it is possible, and knowing how to do something in theory is the first step to being able to do it in practice.