7 Ways to Communicate More Effectively and Avoid Arguments

communication problem and arguments on who is right and wrong

Disagreements over ideas can easily turn into arguments, especially in competitive work environments where everyone’s mindset is that they need to prove themselves with every opportunity. Avoiding conflict should always be the main priority during tense situations since work-related conflicts can be difficult to navigate even for the best communicators.

We put together a small but powerful list of strategies you can use when things are getting heated and risk degenerating into conflict. Here are some of the things you can do to maintain peaceful and respectful communication.

Wait for the right time

Sometimes timing is everything. You wouldn’t ask your boss for a raise right after the company lost its biggest contract. As a leader, you have to apply the same rule. Don’t talk to your employees and don’t call meetings right after you have received bad news or had something bad happen at work.

Harvard researchers claim that angry people are quick to throw blame instead of analyzing the situation and rely on cognitive shortcuts that are not very reliable.

As a measure to curb the effects of anger over decision-making, companies should introduce accountability. If people expect to be held accountable for their decisions and explain what made them choose that course of action, they are less likely to allow anger or other emotional factors to influence their decisions. Hence, more accountability and less arguments.

Avoid invalidation

When conflict arises within a team, people often have a hard time communicating dissenting opinions without invalidating each other. Those on opposite sides of a debate often fail to listen to each other and throw counterarguments without actually considering one another’s arguments.

Things can get even more heated if they get to a personal level and start referring to each other’s experience or competence. That is something you should avoid at all costs. Never let a work conflict degenerate to a point where people are attacking each other in a personal manner.

Choose your words

We all know how important is to choose our words during a heated argument and not say things we can’t take back. In order to avoid a possible argument, you need to show those with a different perspective that you value and acknowledge their point of view.

So, instead of dismissing their arguments and trying to impose your thoughts no matter what, you should use some phrases that show consideration while smoothly introducing your perspective. Here are a few examples:

  • “Thank you for bringing this up. My concerns about this issue are…”
  • “I think you’re making an important point here. It’s definitely worth discussing, so let me tell you my thoughts on that.”
  • “I understand your concerns about the matter, however let’s make sure you understood my perspective…”

Remember your purpose

When debating within the team, it’s easy for people to lose track of their main goal: to build something better together. Work disagreements should never be about proving you are smarter than others or making them look bad. The main purpose is finding the best solution for a current problem you are all facing.

If your team is prone to often heated arguments, you should appoint a referee who should break things up by reminding people that they are on the same page.

Learn to compromise

Not everything will go the way you want it or expect it to go but that doesn’t have to be seen as a loss. Nobody is right 100 percent of the time, but most people have a very hard time admitting they are wrong. That is due to the fear that they might seem less intelligent or lose the respect of their peers. However, that is more likely to happen by acting the opposite way, as a know-it-all who never admits their flaws.

By hearing other perspectives you might actually get to see things in a new light or even learn something new. By all means, you should consider that a win.

Choose your battles

Some things are just not worth becoming an issue. Before jumping into an argument, take a moment to ask yourself if that’s actually important. Do you really care about that issue? Why is it important to you? Is it personal preference or you truly believe that accepting the opposite idea would hurt the project?

If your answer to these questions is rather negative, your idea might not be worth fighting for. Save yourself and everyone else precious time and energy and just let it go.

Respect to be respected

In the end, it all comes down to a single concept: respect. As all major philosophies put it in different words, treat others the way you would like to be treated.

If you don’t like having your ideas dismissed, don’t do that to your teammates. If you hate having your ego hurt and your competence questioned, refrain from doing that to your coworkers. If you expect validation and being treated as an equal by everyone else, you should definitely do the same for them.