Have you ever found yourself arguing with someone to the point where eventually you can’t even remember what the fight was about? This is quite common in arguments and often caused through a lack of understanding from both parties. There are a few things that can be done to avoid this.
Before flying off the handle be clear about what you think the other person is trying to communicate to you. Feedback what they have said to you in your own words and ask if they agree with what you’ve fed back. If you’re both on the same page, great, if not you’ll need to request further clarification to gain a full understanding.
One of the best ways of achieving this is through a questioning approach. Ask as many questions as you feel necessary and once you’re done feed it back to them in your own words again to see if you both agree on what’s being discussed. Once you’re both clear about what position each person holds then and only then should start to discuss the issue.
Now that you both have a good understanding of each other’s viewpoint it’s time to start to come to an agreement. The main approach most un-constructive arguments seem to take is the telling approach where each person tells each other why the other is wrong. This may work in some cases but for the most part it will be unsuccessful.
A questioning approach works much better. You may know what position the other person holds in the argument but you don’t know why they hold that position. Seek first to understand through questioning.
Once you understand why they disagree with you through questioning stop and think. Step into their shoes to see it from their viewpoint. Can you appreciate their viewpoint?
Now that you understand you are in a much better position to persuade them to come over to your side, that is if you still want them to. At this point you may decide not to pursue the argument any longer but if you do you’ll do it with a full appreciation of where they’re coming from.
The final piece of the puzzle if after first understanding the point of view you still want to pursue the argument to its conclusion is to attempt to get them to come around to your way of thinking without telling them.
This can be accomplished through more questions. Try to phrase your questions in such a way that they have no choice but to answer them in a way that supports your viewpoint. Continue this line of questioning until they start to come around. The secret here is to make them think that they came to their conclusion of their own accord, drawing their own conclusions and certainly not by you telling them what they should and should not be thinking or doing.
This approach will get a much better buy in. If they think they were bullied, pressured or cajoled into agreeing with you or just said it to get you off their backs there will be a lack of collaboration when it comes to acting on what you agreed because they really don’t agree deep down inside.
If you want to win more arguments because you feel strongly that you’re right and you do so for the right reasons then you should use three questioning approaches, the first is to seek clarification of what position they hold within the argument, the second is to develop understanding of their position and the third is to bring them into agreement with you by making them think they came to the conclusion on their own which in the long run will be more beneficial to you. Question to help the other person make the right decision on their own. Make it seem like their idea, even if you know the answer, tease it out of them through questions.