An Argument and the Art of Keeping Your Cool During It

To keep an argument from bringing out the worst in you, you have to know yourself well and learn to control your emotions. We share some keys to doing so in this article.
An Argument and the Art of Keeping Your Cool During It
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Surely you can remember a time where you were in an argument and lost your cool. Your emotions got the better of you, and you weren’t able to effectively and constructively defend your point.

Then it seems that you evoke that episode as a situation that got out of hand or as a challenge that you didn’t face as you should. In fact, knowing how to argue, if there’s no choice but to do so, isn’t a simple task. We have to learn how to do it.

Unfortunately, however, there are times in your personal or professional life where there’s no other option than to start these tense, complicated dialogues characterized by reproaches.

As philosopher Immanuel Kant said, “It is impossible to argue with the ignorant”. Thus, you need to learn how to argue well, with control and intelligence. It’s especially important that you don’t lose your cool, so you can avoid distractions and allow the ideas to flow.

Today, we’d like to propose five strategies to help you handle an argument in a much more positive and beneficial way. If this interests you, keep reading!

Five tips to keep your cool during an argument

A couple having an argument.

1. Know the person in front of you, but most of all, know yourself

In order to get to know and connect with someone, you first need to know yourself well.

  • Faced with another person’s weaknesses (for example, insecurity that translates into aggressiveness), self-knowledge allows you to work on internal strengths and your own self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Self-knowledge helps avoid remarks such as “You don’t know what you’re talking about” or even “Your ego is too big” from affecting you. Knowing your qualities will help avoid these comments from harming you.

As you can see, knowing how to connect with yourself and with the person in front of you is fundamental, since it allows us to anticipate certain attitudes and gives you greater control over the situation.

2. Turn off your negative emotions to stay in control during an argument

To remain patient in these circumstances, you also need to learn to manage your own negative emotions. Anger, pride, contempt, rage, or nervousness are examples of emotions that make you get defensive.

If you’re already in “attack mode”, you don’t handle the discomfort that you’re experiencing. Illogical arguments, reproaches, and rigid dialogues that don’t lead to any type of consensus get the best of you.

You can take charge by following these steps:

  • Stop for a moment and try to observe that discussion from the outside in a calm way.
  • Try to become a mere spectator.
  • Thus, the exercise consists of trying to perceive that nothing there hurts you, in identifying that space where you’re okay with yourself.
  • This is the opportunity to think about what justifications you want to defend and what words will make you come out of this disagreement with flying colors.

3. Don’t answer right away

A woman thinking and drinking coffee.

When arguments aren’t going anywhere and neither of the two parties is listening to each other, then it won’t take long for them to start exchanging ugly words and nonconstructive criticism. Sooner or later, they’ll say things they’ll regret afterward.

What’s the point of behaving like this? There’s no point, of course. The following suggestions can help you take your time before responding so that the argument can be productive and you keep your cool:

  • Listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Analyze it.
  • Watch how it impacts you, and then carefully think of your response.
  • Once you know how you feel, it’s time to think of an answer.
  • Despite the discomfort, you need to take your time before responding. This way, you reduce tension.

However, if the reproaches persist and the other person is aggressive, settling this disagreement is another alternative. Unfortunately, there are discussions that aren’t worth having.

4. Breathing deeply also helps you stay calm during an argument

The brain interprets that feeling of alertness that occurs in these altercations almost as a “threat”. Due to these signals, a whole series of reactions take place, in which palpitations, tremors, or shortness of breath are common.

But if you don’t want to lose your cool during an argument, listening to your own body is, in fact, a priority. In this regard, controlling your breathing makes it easier for you to connect with your body’s alarm signs and is an appropriate way to calm down in these cases.

For this, you need to take a deep breath and expel it slowly. You can repeat this exercise several times until you feel calm once again.

A woman doing yoga.

This article may interest you: The Effects of Breathing on the Brain

5. Training inner peace is a preparation for the daily challenges of life

Everyday life often demands many things. For example, that you face frustration and criticism or that you handle disagreements gracefully and effectively.

When faced with these challenges, being prepared on the “inside” will help you better face the adversities you may encounter. Some activities, such as meditating, playing a sport, or writing or painting may prove helpful in this regfard.

In other words, it’s possible to achieve personal peace through certain experiences in which, indirectly, you work on your own values ​​and self-esteem.

If you feel relaxed and confident, you’ll approach difficulties in a different light, even those endless discussions that exasperate you.

Will you apply these keys to staying calm during an argument?

As we’ve been commenting, several strategies are effective to manage your emotions, give prudent responses and, above all, remain calm during an argument.

Remember these guidelines the next time you get into an argument. We hope they can help and guide you on future occasions.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.