We all know people who are argumentative. They always find something to disagree with and seem to make conversations difficult. Sometimes they may argue because they believe in what they are saying, but at other times they just argue because they like to hear themselves talk and be the center of attention. If you have to deal with someone like this on a regular basis, it can be emotionally and mentally exhausting. Trying to stay calm when someone is arguing all the time is not easy!
Here are some things you can do to deal better with a person who likes to argue:
1. Don’t let the argumentative person get you distracted from your topic. Even though the person may try to constantly argue a point, you will want to try to make sure you stick with your purpose.
I understand what you are saying. Let’s continue with our discussion and get back to this when we’re done.
Your point is duly noted. We can certainly revisit this at a later time. Come and see me at the end of the meeting. Now, moving on......
2. If you need input from the argumentative person, be specific and ask only what you need to know. Don’t ask for his opinion because you will be giving him an opportunity to argue.
Let's look at the following examples:
John, what did you find out about the ABC project?
I’ll need your results on phase 1 by Monday morning.
Let me know your thoughts on this project by Friday.
Email me any changes you want to make by the end of the day today.
What are the two best ways we can proceed with this project?
3. Maintain your self-control at all times. The argumentative person likes control and may try to take over the meeting with comments and confrontations. Don’t get caught up in an argument and try to win a point. Try to say one sentence to try to diffuse the situation, and then move on!
Here are some statements you will want to avoid saying:
Let’s not argue about this.
I don’t want to get into an argument.
I don’t want to argue with you.
Let’s discuss this peacefully.
I’m sure we can resolve this by talking calmly.
It’s always better to diffuse the situation by saying the following:
I understand what you are saying. Next, we need to discuss____.
That’s an interesting way of looking at it. Now, I’d like to show you ______
I see your point. Now, I’d like to continue with the next item on the agenda.
I know what you’re saying. Let’s move on and give updates for our project.
Yes, I know how you feel. Many people feel that way.
I understand you are upset about this. Next, let’s talk about _______
That’s very insightful. We also need to review our results on ________
4. Avoid offending the argumentative person. The argumentative person likes to feel they are in control and are the center of attention. You can still say what you want to say, but you will have to change the words you use so that you sound more subtle.
Avoid using sentences like:
You only need to change the last part of your results because they are incorrect.
Just tell us the bottom line, not the details.
We only need you to complete part 1 of the project.
Instead, you will want to say something that confirms what the argumentative person has stated. Look at the following examples:
So, the next step we will want to include is___
Just to clarify, these are the changes you feel are important to make:____
What we decided was that you would_____
It is your opinion that _____
Of the team’s three choices, you think this one is the best.
5. It’s a good idea to give the argumentative person credit for their decisions. Look at the following examples:
Your idea of incorporating this strategy was a good one, and we are using it now.
This is the approach you suggested during last Monday’s meeting.
As you suggested, we used your idea on ______
We liked your idea regarding______ so we are implementing it in this project.
We appreciated your feedback regarding _____ and decided to use your idea about it.
Situations to discuss How would you respond to the following situations? 1. You are consulting with your team on plans for implementing a new process for your project, and one person keeps arguing with you. He says that he doesn’t understand why you want to do it that way because it doesn’t make sense to him. He insists that you consider it his way.
2. Your team has a meeting to discuss three choices for a direction of a particular project. One person in the team argues against all three, stating a completely different idea that he thinks will work better.
3. When presenting solutions to your team regarding a particular problem, everyone is happy with your suggestion, except one person. He doesn’t have another idea to solve the problem, but has decided that no matter what you or anyone else says, it is wrong.