Arguing sucks. Arguing with a stubborn person sucks even more.
So, what’s a “stubborn person”? The dictionary definition is someone who’s determined to do what he or she wants and [is] difficult to move, change, or deal with”. No wonder you keep arguing with them. How can you win against someone who thinks they are always right? Against someone who won’t change? Obviously you can’t just approach them and say, “Can we stop arguing, please?” They’re stubborn. They won’t listen. Instead, you need to trick them into stopping.
How do you trick them into not arguing? By steering the argument towards a discussion. Instead of hurling insults, you exchange constructive feedback. You go from enemies fighting to loved ones talking. Talking gets you somewhere. Arguing gets you nowhere. If you’ve wondered how to get better at arguing, try these 5 easy tips. Soon your argument will turn into a civil discussion that doesn’t leave you stressed and angry.
Tip 1: Shut Up and Listen
I know, I know. It’s last thing you feel like doing against a person who always gets their way. You don’t want to give them the satisfaction of ranting and raving, so you rant and rave back. You talk over them. They talk over you. You shout over them. They shout over you. Then you’re both yelling until your throats are sore. The argument explodes until something gets thrown or someone storms out.
Shouting back doesn’t work against a normal person. It definitely doesn’t work against a stubborn one.
So what should you do?
Shut up and listen. Instead of wondering what to shout back, listen to what they’re saying. Don’t just walk away, listen to what they’re saying. Throwing things doesn’t work, listen to what they’re saying. If you take the time to stop and listen, you’ll defuse the situation. The other person won’t yell anymore because you aren’t. Who shouts at a silent person? People yell to be heard. They won’t feel the need to be heard if you actually listen.
And when they stop talking? Address what they said. Don’t launch a counter attack. Address the points they made. Doing this shows you actually listened. And respond in a calm manner. For example, if you have a stubborn boyfriend who says, “I hate you!” You want to say it back. You want to hurt him like he hurt you. Don’t do it. Instead, calmly ask, “Why do you hate me?” Address the reasons he gives. Just listening means you can actually talk instead of fighting.
Now you’re talking, figure out a compromise. How can you both be happier? There has to be a middle ground. Talk and listen until you find it. Once you’ve addressed how the other person feels, calmly say, “Can I say how I feel?” After being so reasonable, they’ll feel guilty about not listening to you.
Tip 2: Lighten the Mood
Stubborn people tend to be ready for a fight. Arguing with them is easy because they keep pushing back, always refusing to surrender. The argument escalates quickly because “hard-headed people” get on your nerves. You get angrier and they get more stubborn. Soon you’re both in a really bad mood. You can’t have a mature discussion like this. Compromise isn’t possible when both parties are ready for war.
Stop throwing things, stomping around the house, yelling, swearing or mumbling under your breath. All that does is leave you both in a worse mood and more stressed out. Do you know what effect stress has on people? It causes headaches, chest pains, social withdrawal, undereating and a lot more. Arguing with a stubborn person is bad enough without making them more angry, more irritable and more overwhelmed!
What can you try instead?
Lighten the mood. Put a comedy show on TV. Log on to Youtube and play some funny cat videos. Just do something, anything, funny! What makes you both laugh? Do that! When you both start smiling, you won’t be able to get angry. You can’t yell when you’re laughing. Laughter is the best way to deal with an argument. Someone looking for a fight won’t expect to end up laughing. A good mood means it’s easier to butter them up and reach a compromise. Who knows. You might even get your own way…
Tip 3: Make One Point One Time
When we argue, we tend to explode. Everything we’ve been putting off comes out. Days, weeks, months, even years’ worth of frustration is released. No wonder the other person gets so defensive. The argument might start over an incident that morning, but move over to an incident that happened years ago. Both parties end up reliving the past, stirring up the same bad memories from yesteryear.
Of course this is all worse when you argue with a stubborn person. You probably have years of frustration towards them. Why? Because they don’t listen. They don’t change. Year after year, you try to change them. Year after year, they don’t give a damn and stay the same. You make the same point over and over and over…and stubborn people hate that. They never change and they hate being told to do so. Stubborn people hear you, but they don’t listen.
So what’s the alternative?
When you start arguing, make one point. The most important point. If you’re not sure which point to focus on, just stick with the original complaint made. For example, if you started arguing over the dishes, don’t bring up the washing, car, work, neighbours, etc. When you complain about twenty different things, a stubborn person gets more defensive. Why? Because you overwhelmed them. Stubborn people don’t change because it scares them. Changing one thing scares them. Changing even more is terrifying! Just argue one point and leave it at that. Help them with one problem. Once that’s been dealt with, you can calmly talk about other problems another time.
When you make your point, and only one point, don’t go on and on about it. Remember, the more you push a stubborn person the more they push back. They become even more resistant and more reluctant to change. So, make your point. When that person gets defensive — you know they will — make your point one more time. Try saying it in a different tone, in a nicer way, in a clearer way.
Then they’ll get defensive again. What should you say then?
You move on. Life is too short to make the same point over and over again. The more you push a stubborn person, the more they push back. You accepting their refusal and moving on is healthier for both parties. You stop stressing yourself out by making the same point repeatedly for the rest of your life. The stubborn husband, boyfriend or whoever else get to keep being stubborn.
Isn’t that a bad thing?
It could be, but sometimes stubborn people need to feel uncomfortable. It pushes them to change. One day they’ll get sick and tired of being sick and tired. Then they’ll make the necessary changes. Until then, arguing is a waste of time.
You might even be stopping them from finally making that big change. Stubborn people, particularly stubborn teenagers, love doing the opposite they’re told. You can argue all you like, but the more you tell them not to do it…
Remember: One point. One time. Just try it.
Tip 4: A New Environment, A Fresh Start
By now you know what stubborn people fear most? That’s right. Change. It scares the pants off them. Naturally they just avoid their greatest fear. They get set in their ways, which makes everyone else mad. You want to help them change. Instead you do the opposite. You help them stay the same by making them comfortable. Comfortable people don’t change. Uncomfortable people do.
Get them out of their comfort zone. Stop enabling them. If they won’t change, don’t help them stay the same. Let them do it themselves. I can’t tell you how you’re enabling those stubborn people in your day to day life. You’ve just got to sit and write down how you’re helping them not change. How are you making them comfortable? Too darn comfortable.
What’s this got to do with arguing?
Arguing helps you practice how to change. By arguing in a new way, you can take that stubborn person out of their comfort zone. When you make some changes, you’ll unsettle them. That’s a good thing!
Let’s say you’re arguing in the kitchen. Your husband left dirty dishes on the side, again. Usually you’d both stand there arguing. Every time you see that dried food on the plates you just wanna throttle him! And he knows it! So you both stand there going back and forth until he wins. Stubborn people usually do.
Why not try something different?
An easy way to stop arguing with a stubborn person is to change things up! Wear new clothes. Get fit and healthy. Cut your hair. Grow your hair. Go for a promotion. Get a new job. Just do something to show that stubborn person you won’t stay the same. Someone who thinks they are always right can’t handle being wrong. Making positive changes proves them wrong. Positive changes make things better. Staying the same makes things worse.
If you’re arguing in the kitchen, go to the bathroom. Sit on the toilet. Use it if you like. Just make him uncomfortable. Or go out into the garden and relax. Nobody feels like arguing when they could be relaxing in the sun. Or keep arguing with him until you get to the bedroom. Get in bed and keep talking. Your odd behaviour will shake him from his comfort zone. Then he’ll realise that change wasn’t so bad after all. Who fights when they could be doing other things in bed…
Now he’s seen that change can be a good thing, he’ll be more likely to change in other areas of his life too. Starting with those arguments. Simple changes like moving to a new environment is an easy way to cut an argument short. A new area refreshes the mind. It symbolises a fresh start. Moving to a different place gives both parties a chance to shut up and think. Think about what the other person has said. It also gives you both a chance to cool off. By the time you settle in the next room, you’ll be over the argument. Or at least the angry part of it. Now you can move on to a civilised discussion.
Tip 5: Walk Away! Run Away! Stay Away?
The easiest way to stop arguing with a stubborn person is just stop. Stop cursing, yelling, shouting, or even talking. Just stop and walk away.
You won’t reach a compromise if you walk away, but there are times when you have no choice. Some stubborn people just stop listening after a certain point. Here are some clues that your stubborn friend doesn’t want to hear you anymore:
- They walked away.
- They’ve turned on the TV or radio.
- They turned away.
- They’ve stopped responding.
- They’re talking/shouting/screaming over you.
- They keep approaching you in an aggressive manner.
- They are breaking/throwing things.
- They’re so furious that their health at risk e.g. breathing heavily, trembling, eyes bulging, etc.
Most people would continue to argue. They find it really hard to stop arguing with a stubborn person and admit defeat. If the other person walks away, some people would follow them. When someone wants their personal space it’s best to respect it. If they’ve removed themselves from a possibly dangerous situation, good. They need time to cool off before they do something you’ll both regret.
But what if the person doesn’t walk away?
What if they approach you? Want to fight you?
Are you dealing with a potentially violent person?
That’s when things could get ugly real fast. BEFORE an argument gets physical, remove yourself from the situation. Getting physical is anything where the person makes physical contact: grabbing you, holding you, pushing you, prodding you, slapping you, etc. Now you’ve gone from a tough argument into domestic violence territory.
Don’t stick around just to “win” the fight. No one wins if someone gets hurt. Remember, most stubborn people won’t back down from a fight. They’re tough. They’ll stick it out to the very end. Unfortunately, the very end could actually mean the very end for one of you. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 64% of women killed were murdered by a family member or intimate partner. Even worse, black women are four times more likely than white women to be killed by a partner. We don’t know their circumstances. All we can learn from this is that those we love most can hurt us. Kill us. If you ever feel in danger during an argument, walk or run away. It’s not worth risking your safety.
If you want to leave a potentially dangerous argument, try the following:
- Go to another room in the house and lock the door.
- Go for a 30 minute walk.
- Do some shopping.
- Go to a family member or friend’s house.
- If possible, go to work.
No argument in the world is worth dying over. You won’t win if you’re dead. You can’t compromise with a violent person because they are beyond just being stubborn. Now they can’t be reasoned with. Violent people don’t have mature discussions. They aren’t worth your time.
So walk away. Run away. Stay away.
So, what are the 5 easy ways to stop arguing with a stubborn person?
- Shut Up and Listen. Arguments die off when people actually stop and listen.
- Lighten the Mood. Arguments stop when everyone is happier.
- Make One Point One Time. Arguments end when people stop nagging!
- A New Environment, A Fresh Start. Leave the negativity in another room.
- Walk Away. Run Away. Stay Away? You can’t win a physical argument.
They’re stubborn people, so expect to need more than one tip. Remember that the aim isn’t to win the argument. You won’t win against someone who thinks they are always right. The goal is to turn a bad argument into a friendly discussion. Then everyone gets to stay cool, calm and collected enough to compromise. Compromise is the best way to stop arguing with a stubborn person. Everyone wins when you compromise! But what if this person never wants to meet in the middle? Are they always miserable, moaning, argumentative? Then they could be someone you need to cut out your life.