How To Move Past An Argument
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How To Move Past An Argument

You had a big argument. You and the person you’re fighting with both feel terrible. No one is happy. Both of you are thinking, “I messed up.”

At the same time, both of you are also thinking, “But I’m still right.

If this sounds familiar, you’re probably curious to know how to move past an argument. What do you say when both of you are wrong—or just one of you is—and it’s wrecking your relationship?

In our latest podcast episode, we talk about people who are in this exact position. People who blew up on others, messed up their relationships, suffered a bout of nasty insults… and more. Listen to that now to get our take on things, or keep reading to learn how to move past an argument in a way that makes all parties happy. 

How to move past an argument 

First, decide whether you’d rather be right or happy 

After an argument, you often get to choose between one of two things: being right, or being happy. Most times, you can’t have both. You can either be right that your spouse was rude to you at dinner, or you can be happy that you have an opportunity to work on your relationship and make the next dinner better. 

What you can’t be is right and happy. You’re probably right that the dinner you went to was a disaster. And you’re probably right that your spouse was a jerk in the moment. But continuing to berate them for it isn’t going to make either of you happy. In fact, it’s going to make you much, much more miserable. 

So, if you’re in the midst of an earth-shattering argument, your first job is to find the path to being happy. How can you have the kind of relationship you want with the person you’re feuding with, regardless of who “won” or “lost” the argument?

Decide what you really want

We alluded to this above, but now we’ll say it directly: after choosing to try and find a way to be happy, you need to decide what you really want. If this argument is so intense, so vile, that you want nothing more than to sever your relationship with the person involved, then that’s okay. You can and have every right to do that. 

It’s also okay, though, to want to fix things.

And if you want to fix things, you’re going to have to give it some serious effort. Think about creative ways to move past the problems you’re experiencing. Think about how you can meet in the middle on something that’s troubling the both of you. 

And to do that, you’re going to need to…

Assume positive intent 

The person you’re fighting with probably seems like an a—hole right now. And maybe they are. But if you’re going to learn how to move past an argument, you need to reframe how you see them. 

Don’t think of them as the villain in your life. Think of them as a person with wants, needs and desires, just like you. Most people don’t like being mean. Most people don’t like intense conflict with others. And most people like getting it right for their partner, spouse, friend, parent or sibling. 

So, assume positive intent in the person you’re arguing with. Assume that they’re flawed and human, but also that they’re trying their best. When you’re ready, initiate a conversation by saying, “I see you, and I see where you’re coming from. You didn’t mean to hurt me. I want to make this right. We just need to find a way to do it that feels right for both of us, because you mean so much to me.” 

Journal, journal, journal

Journaling: it’s the key to everything. When you’re fighting with someone, a journal is the best place to put all your thoughts—both the helpful and unhelpful ones. Here’s a good tactic for moving past an argument with a journal:

  • Start by writing down all the worst things you’re thinking and feeling. That way you can “release” them into the world without hurting the person you’re trying to mend fences with.

  • Next, write about some creative ways you could approach this argument. What are things you haven’t tried before? How can you take a different path? How can you break the cycle of disagreement and resentment with your friend, partner or parent?

  • Finally, write about the BEST thing that could happen. What’s the best resolution to this scenario? Write it out in vivid detail. Write about the apologies made, the compromises agreed upon, the eventual outcome… write about all of it. Writing about your argument in this way can help you see how the argument is simply BLOCKING you from reaching a wonderful resolution, rather than CREATING problems in your life. 

How to move past an argument: don’t think of it as an argument

In essence, an argument with someone else is a misalignment of wants and needs. It’s two people in conflict over things they care deeply about. It’s not about winning, or losing, or crushing the other person in a contest of ego and spite.

Instead of thinking of your argument as an end-all-be-all situation, think about how to turn that argument into a positive moment. Dig deep and consider what you really want, instead of what feels good to say in the moment. 

Need more specific support? We’ve got you covered. Talk to our coaches today about ways to fix arguments when you or someone you know has really, really messed up (even if that someone is you).