Argumentative friends, family and partners can make even simple interactions stressful. When dealing with someone who always wants to argue, it is important to remember that you do not need to engage in argumentative behaviors in turn. Learning how to control your own responses as well as limiting interactions with argumentative individuals can help you diffuse difficult situations and avoid unnecessary conflicts.
As much as you may want to try to reason with someone who is argumentative, it is unlikely that he will stop his own behaviors unless he is motivated to do so on his own. In other words, you cannot control his behavior, but you can control your own reactions to his argumentative ways. When someone who always wants to argue becomes aggressive or negative, keep your own emotions in check. Avoid arguing back or becoming defensive. This will generally just fuel the other person’s anger.
Sometimes argumentative individuals are unaware of how their behaviors affect others. At a time when your argumentative partner, friend or relative is calm, discuss the ways that her behavior is affecting you. Emphasize that you want to have a harmonious relationship and explain how this argumentative behavior makes you feel -- for example, hurt, angry or frustrated. Avoid blaming this individual or labeling her as argumentative. Instead, emphasize that you have noticed that you are not communicating well.
Disengage from Arguments
If you find yourself being drawn into an argument through insults, yelling or other forms of provocation, it can be helpful to walk away from the situation, advises clinical social worker and relationship coach Carol Juergenson-Sheets. You can say something such as “I will discuss this with you later when we can talk calmly” and then remove yourself from the person’s company. If this argumentative pattern of behavior continues, it may be beneficial to simply walk away without saying anything at all.
Work Through Underlying Problems
Sometimes an individual’s argumentative patterns stem from underlying problems in a relationship. If you notice a pattern of argumentative behaviors in your partner, family member or close friend, this may stem from unresolved anger, animosity, resentment or other negative feelings. Thus, it may be useful to take a close look at your relationship and consider the nature of your relationship with the person who always wants to argue. Ask yourself if your relationship has issues that you have not yet resolved. If so, take steps to address the underlying problems.
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Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.