Why do people argue?

Most arguments stem from two things. A misalignment in beliefs and a breakdown in communication. A typical telltale sign of an argument is a frustrated raised voice.

Yelling, or a raised voice in an argument stems from ‘not being heard’. Our subconscious says, “If you’re not hearing what I’m saying, how about I raise my voice a little so you can hear me?”.

It is not uncommon for us to also want to retain a level of control. Once again, our subconscious in protecting us from losing our footing, as our primal safety responses will measure this as a threat to our wellbeing.

The other reason is a miss-alignment with beliefs, values or goals.  If I believe something should be done a certain way and you believe differently, we may argue.  We do not have a common goal. We do not value the same standards or have the same expectations.

If you can recognise how another person’s values, wants and desires may be different to yours, you can modify your own behavioural response, thereby influencing theirs. To change the behaviour in someone else that is angering us, our best response is to change our own behaviour.

Conflicts can be a valued warning sign in business. They tell us that there is a misalignment in expectations. Whether it be a quality of a product or a process. It can show us where the flaws are in our productivity or where our vision, mission and purpose are weak.  A well-resolved conflict can be a great stepping stone toward improvement.

Raise Your Awareness. 

Before discussions escalate, develop your skills of observation and awareness. This heightened level of awareness is a fundamental skill of emotional intelligence. If you are a competitive sort, think of it as staying one step ahead of your opponent, so you are more able to influence (or is that manipulate?) the situation.

Look for trigger points in the other person, body language or keywords that allow you to read between the lines.

Watch your own language.

If you find yourself saying things like “I don’t want to argue with you.” What this is really saying is, “I don’t want you to argue your point with me. I want you to surrender to my way of thinking.” Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.  If you are saying the same thing over and over again, you’re treading the same path that hasn’t worked before.  Consider re-phrasing what you are trying to say.

Practice Active Listening.

If the other person is beginning to raise their voice, this is a telltale sign they do not feel heard.  Try paraphrasing what the other person has just said, this alerts them that you have heard and understood what they have said to you.

Why the Frustration?

Consider what it is that is frustrating you about the other person. In your own mind, be specific and clear to identify what part of the behaviour is bothering you.  Then consider, what does it say about you? Why are you being triggered by their behaviour? What values or beliefs are you holding that are coming into conflict? Perhaps these are values you were not aware you were hanging onto or vulnerabilities you need to address.

If you find yourself in conflicts or are concerned about your increased level of anger, you may be living with a heightened level of stress you are unaware of. 

Ps. If you want more stress management tips and you’re a busy working woman, I want to invite you to my free group which is just for Busy Working Women owning their lives. Join us here.

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About the Author:

Barbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a time management strategist and stress management practitioner based in Alice Springs, Australia.  She has spent over 20 years working in time precious and stressful industries such as film, hospitality and marketing.  She has always had a burning passion for creating order and making sense of things.

She is on a mission is to become the no.1 resource to help people unclutter the chaos and break free from the shackles of overwhelm so that they wake each day inspired and motivated to work in peak performance and to live on purpose. Barbara is known around Australia for her training, coaching, online programmes, webinars and as a guest speaker.

Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships.