If there is one thing we all have in common, it’s that we don’t always agree with one another. Therefore, if there’s one thing many of us could learn, it would be how to end an argument respectfully. Never before has this been more true than it is today.

If we are progressing toward a healthy and meaningful life, then we’ve come to accept that there are times when we must simply respectfully disagree with someone and move forward. Unfortunately it’s becoming increasingly difficult to agree to disagree in today’s divided America.

Television and social media reflect the strain political disagreements has placed on people with their family, friends and coworkers. This has only served to magnify the division, making it seemingly impossible to have a civil conversation with someone you don’t agree with. 

An argument with a loved one or family member could cause many problems such as stress, strained relationships, family conflict and more. However, an argument with a boss or coworker could cost you your job. If you find yourself in a heated exchange with someone you don’t agree with it and you need to defuse it fast, here are some ways you can politely and that difficult conversation.


How To End An Argument Respectfully



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Listening: so simple, yet so difficult – and effective.


Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Successful People said it best: “Listen with the intent to understand, not respond.”

When we’re arguing, we typically aren’t listening. We simply want to be heard. If you want to end an argument respectfully, stay quiet and let the person vent without interrupting them. Of course you’ll want to argue with them or defend yourself or your point of view. But if you want to end the conversation on a positive note, it’s best to let them get in the last word.

Besides, in the big scheme of things, what are you really gaining by being right? If you want to learn how to end and argument on a good note then you need to let go of the need to be right.


Ask questions

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Being curious and asking questions is a great way to show respect during an argument.


Tap in to your natural curiosity and ask questions when you’re arguing with someone. Do it without condensation or sarcasm, but with genuine interest. Consider the possibility that they might know something you don’t. (Also consider the possibility, you don’t know everything.) One of the best pieces of advice my grandfather ever gave me was, “Try to learn something from everyone you come in contact with. They know something you don’t.”

Even if you already know (or think you do) the answer (or don’t care to hear what it is), asking questions will defuse the argument by giving the other person an opportunity to share their viewpoint with you. You can then end the conversation politely by saying something like, “That’s an interesting perspective. I never thought about it that way.”


Find common ground

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If you want to end an argument on a good note, find common ground – and stay there.


If you want to end an argument on a positive note, steer the conversation toward things you both agree on. It will be easier for both to walk away feeling a sense of connection – not anger, resentment, etc. If they try to steer the conversation back to the heated issue, change the subject to something positive, or let them speak and then say something like, “I can respect that and understand why you feel that way. Thanks for sharing your point of you with me.”


Remember the golden rule

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Chances are you don’t like being interrupted – so don’t do it to others.


Sadly, the old adage “do unto to others as you would have them do unto you” is not as common as it used to be. Treating others how you want to be treated is one of the life’s most simple (and important) principles. When you passionately disagree with someone, it can be difficult to treat them with kindness. But If you have empathy for others, you’ll develop character and patience; qualities that will serve you (and the world around you) for a lifetime. 

Life is too short to spend it struggling to get along with friends, family and coworkers. Trying to defend your point of view and needing to be right all the time is exhausting and takes the joy out of life. If you’re struggling to find common ground and balance with people in your life, find an awesome therapist you like and trust to help you navigate your way to more rich and meaningful relationships and connection in your life.


James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.