1. Start with what you agree on – This is a great way to remember that for the most part we all have a huge amount of things we agree on. Getting on common ground make the minor points a lot easier to keep in perspective.
2. Listen to understand – It may be hard, but the person in front of you has a point; likely a valid one in their mind. So, dismissing their idea or understanding without seeking to know their point of view is a surefire way to lose right from the start. I try to make sure I’m not just waiting until they stop talking to make my own point.
3. Don’t throw out vague facts to support your point – It’s extremely annoying when someone paints a scenario or draws up vague facts to drive their point home. Be sure to speak in know facts, not the grey talking points pushed on your favorite fringe new network.
4. Practice active listening – It’s always easier to get on the same page when you provide feedback to make sure you heard them right. It’s amazing how many times I repeat back the last point and I heard it completely wrong.
5. Get some perspective – Yeah, it’s a cliche, but putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is a really useful way to figure out where they’re coming from. Start with “If I was coming from their point of view . . .” A bit of perspective can really make the discussion level out.
6. Don’t make conclusions based on emotions – It’s easy to let the conversation get personal, especially when emotions start to flare up. Don’t throw out the person because of their statements or their position, always try to look past the argument at the person back there somewhere.
7. Never value winning the argument more than winning the relationship – With that in mind, never let the need to win overpower the need to keep a relationship alive. Friendships are too valuable to throw out arguing over politics, money, or anything else for that matter.
8. Apologize fast – Now if you do happen to go too far, own it and apologize fast. There’s nothing wrong with admitting fast when you crossed the line. Remember, you can be right, but be fully wrong in how you handled the disagreement. Stay classy and own it.
9. Hug it out – Once things have deëscalated, it’s important to “de-role” and remind yourselves that you were acting as adversaries for a moment, but the bond you have is real and strong enough to sustain misunderstanding.