Arguing With Friends Be Like...
How to Fix an Argument Between Friends
Even the best of friends argue sometimes. Arguments between friends can lead to hurt feelings, avoidance of one another, an increase in future conflict, and ultimately, the breaking down of the friendship altogether. In order to mend the friendship, you may need to first address the problem or argument. It can hurt and be difficult, but luckily there are positive ways of dealing with arguments and conflict such as: planning to fix the situation, utilizing conflict resolution skills, using positive communication, and reducing future conflicts.
Planning to Fix the Situation
Admit what went wrong.In order to begin to solve an argument, you first need to understand what happened and develop some hypotheses about why it happened. This is crucial because you cannot solve a problem if you don’t know what the problem is! Having a plan is one way to approach the situation with a clear head to reduce more arguments.
- Begin by looking at what happened from your perspective and thinking rationally about it. Use both your rational mind and your emotional mind, but try to look at the situation objectively. Let’s say you found out that your friend was talking negatively about you behind your back. Think about all of the specifics of the situation. How did you find out? What did the person say? How did you handle it?
- In order to analyze the issue, it can be helpful to identify what led to the issue and what happened afterwards. Identify the Antecedent (what happened before the conflict), Behavior (what you did) and Consequence (what happened as a result of the behavior).Let’s imagine that the conflict began by you finding out that your friend is talking behind your back (antecedent), and then you confronted your friend which turned into a verbal argument (behavior). Next, you and your friend stopped talking to each other for a week (consequence).
- Know that some arguments are okay; not all arguments are bad. It is okay to disagree with your friends sometimes, and argue or debate about a topic.It is how you go about arguing that is important; each person needs to be respectful and neither should be aggressive.
Commit to change your actions.Try to analyze your own behaviors and thoughts about the situation. Think about the possibility of looking at the situation differently and taking on another perspective. This can help you gain clarity about the conflict and understand how you can attempt to solve it. For example, you could commit to your friend that you will do something better the next time a similar situation occurs.
- One way of doing things differently is thinking differently. For example, if someone told you your friends was talking negatively about you, is it possible that this isn’t true?
- Another way of doings things differently is changing your actions. If you confronted your friend about what you heard, can you identify a better way you could have approached the situation? Were you really mad when you tried to resolve the conflict? Did you say something you regret?
Plan to express what made you upset.Analyze how your friend responded to the argument. This can help you to gather your thoughts so that when you talk to your friend about the situation you can be specific about what you’d like her to change.
- Gather some ideas about what hurt your feelings or made the situation more difficult for you. For example, perhaps your friend called you a bad name and cursed at you, and this made you feel sad and angry.
- Identify specifically what your friend could have done differently. For example, if your friend cursed at you, perhaps she could have lowered her voice, spoken calmly, and used words that were not hurtful or aggressive.
Resolving the Conflict
Set up a time and place to talk.Discussing the situation is one of the most helpful ways to solve an argument and improve a relationship.
- If you haven’t talked to your friend in a while, try texting or calling her to set up a time to meet. You could say something like, "Hey. I'd like to set up a time to talk with you in person? Are you okay with that?"
- Avoid having a conversation about the issue over text, messenger, email, or phone. Face-to-face contact is the best approach to solving conflict because it reduces the likelihood of a miscommunication; you can’t tell a person’s tone or facial expression from a text message. You can say, "I think it would be better if we talk about this in person. I really want to be able to understand you better. How about we go get coffee?"
- Pick an appropriate location that is somewhat private. Do not involve other people as this can seem like you are ganging up on your friend; talk to your friend individually.Good locations might be at a coffee shop, your home, or a park. Try to avoid places like school or work (where other people you know might be around).
- Discuss each side of the situation. First let your friend talk about her experience and her feelings. This shows that you are willing to put your thoughts aside while you focus on her.
Be empathic.Having empathy for the other person increases the likelihood of healthy conflict resolution.You could say something such as, "I'd like to hear your side of the situation. Can you tell me how you are thinking and feeling about what happened?"
- Put yourself in your friend’s shoes. How would it feel to be in her situation? What would it be like to think her thoughts and feel her feelings? Are there other things going on in her life that are affecting the situation (difficult situations at home or at school)?
- Try to be understanding and look at her point of view as an outsider. Maintain a distant stance from your own emotions in the meantime in order to reduce the likelihood that you will take something she says personally and react emotionally.
Apologize.Accept that your friend has a reason to be upset even if you don’t agree with it.
- Say something like, "I realize you are hurt and I'm sorry." Then listen to what she has to say. Don’t say something like, "I might have been wrong, but you made it worse."
Use Collaborative Problem-Solving.Work on the best outcome for both people involved.When collaborating, both sides are equal and each person works toward coming to the best possible response to the situation.
- You could start by saying, "I really want to solve this problem together. Do you think we can come up with a solution that we both agree on?" You can also emphasize that you are willing to work on things by saying, "I understand that I need to work on some things too, so I want you to know that I'm open to hearing about what you'd like me to do better next time."
- Focus on being cooperative and helping the other person.Instead of thinking about your own needs, think about your own desires in the context of your friend’s needs as well. Is there a way you can both get your needs met in a safe and healthy way? Perhaps you can help your friend learn how to communicate better, and you can learn how to resolve conflict in a healthy way.
- Don’t compromise too much. Compromising may mean you get only part of what you want, and sacrifice of your important desires.Be willing to budge a bit, but don’t completely compromise your wants and needs to appease the other person.
- Analyze possible solutions and agree on one option that fits for the both of you. Take a look at the situation and think of how to solve it together. Perhaps make a list of options where both parties involved would work on something. For example, if you heard that your friend was talking negatively about you and you confronted her, some solutions might be that you could have spoken more assertively instead of aggressively, and your friend could have done the same. Once you have come to this conclusion, you can agree on what you both can do differently in the future.
Using Positive Communication
Practice being assertive.Assertiveness is about getting your needs met in appropriate and respectful ways.The more assertive you can be, the more likely you will get what you want.
- Be direct. Approach your friend calmly and tactfully. Listen to her point of view, and then explain how you feel.
- Use “I statements,” such as, “I felt angry when I heard you were talking bad about me to other people.” Make sure you emphasize how you feel instead of what the other person did; you should always state your feelings first in order to reduce the likelihood that the other person will react emotionally or take it personally.
- Focus on positive aspects of the relationship. You could say something like, "Your friendship means a lot to me and I don't want this to come between us.”
- Maintain positive eye contact. Don’t stare without looking away every once in a while, and don’t avoid eye contact. Maintain eye-contact that is comfortable, look away every once in a while, then regain eye-contact.
Reduce aggressiveness.Aggressive communication is based on, “I’m okay, you’re not okay” thinking. It assumes that you are right and the other person is wrong. Examples of aggressive communication include: raising your voice or yelling, threatening, putting down the other person (e.g., “You’re stupid”), and pointing your fingers.
- Avoid engaging in hurtful behaviors such as name-calling, put-downs, or blaming.For example, don’t say things like, "I can't believe you did that. I hate you. You’re stupid.” Instead, say something assertive like, "I felt really angry when I heard that you were talking about me behind my back. I know that it may have been taken out of context, but can you give me your side of what happened? I'd like to understand where you're coming from."
Limit passive communication.Some people back down and beg for forgiveness at the first sign of a fight, even when they are not the only one responsible for the issue. However, passive behaviors like avoiding confrontation are associated with more negativity within friendships.
- Don’t avoid the problem, this can result in unresolved conflict.
- Don’t apologize for everything, only your part in the problem. In other words, do not take the entire blame. There are always two people in a conflict, and in most case both people exhibit behaviors that contribute to the issue.
- Look at your friend and maintain eye-contact instead of staring at the floor or fidgeting.
- Do not simply accommodate the other person’s will or wishes. Your needs are just as important.
Avoid engaging in passive-aggressive behaviors.Passive-aggression is associated with showing your aggression in a passive way. Instead of telling someone how you feel, you tell the person through your actions. These passive forms of aggression can be confusing and hurtful.
- Some examples of passive-aggressive communication are sarcasm, talking behind the person’s back (speaking negatively about her to others), spreading rumors, or getting other people to dislike your friend.
Reducing the Frequency of Future Arguments
Continue to work on the friendship.Do not expect things to be straightened out right away. Arguments can be messy, and it can take time to work things through.
- Allow for space. Sometimes friends need a break from one another in order to re-assess the situation and get some clarity.
- Give up control. Trying to control your friend may produce negativity within the relationship.Respect your friend’s wishes if she doesn't want to talk about the situation, but let her know it's upsetting you.
- Do not force her to talk things through as this may lead to another argument.
Manage your anger.Anger management is not about avoiding being angry, it’s about knowing what to do when you are angry.
- Avoid having conversations when you are very angry. Walk away if there is a conflict that may escalate into aggressive communication or violence.
- Keep calm and remember to breathe!
Pay attention to your own positive qualities.Studies show that when people focus on their knowledge, creativity, and skills, they are better at resolving conflict with peers.
- Identify your strengths and cultivate them! Let’s say you are good at performing, join an acting class or audition for the school play. The more activities and skills you involve yourself in the better!
QuestionMy friend won't talk to me after a big fight. What do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGive her time, let her cool off her pride and her steam, try to at least tell her how you feel, and how it wasn't nice for her to fight with you.Thanks!
QuestionI got into a fight with my friend, because I was not studying for my exam. Now she won't talk to me even if I say I'm sorry a gazillion times. What do I do?Devya SharmaCommunity AnswerMake her feel special, tell her how much you care about her and don't forget to show your affection.Thanks!
QuestionTwo of my friends are arguing over me and making me pick between them. What shall I do?Jordyn WilsonCommunity AnswerTell them you won't choose. Tell them they are friends, and friends don't fight. If they force you to choose, say neither, because they make you upset and involve you in their fights.Thanks!
QuestionI used to be friends with someone, but he recently left me due to an argument. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerApologize. Don't break a good friendship over minor issues. If the friendship is more important than the issues, don't let those issues win over your friendship.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I stop an ongoing arguments and meanness between my friends?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTell them how their behavior makes you feel and ask if they can try to work out their problems in a more positive, respectful way.Thanks!
QuestionMy friend and I get in arguments over stupid things. How can I fix it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSend him a note of apology and ask for forgiveness.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I make someone stop arguing with the rest of my friends?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerFind out what the problem is, and talk to each person involved. Come up with a solution you think is best.Thanks!
QuestionMy friends all think I used them for a girl, but I didn't, and they have been annoyed at me for weeks. Whenever I go up to them or try to resolve, they start saying screw off and other insults. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf that's the way they treat you, they're not your real friends. Try making new ones.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do if the fight has been going on for a long time?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt doesn't really matter how long the fight has been going on. Try to find the root problem, the reason they're not getting along, and talk it over with them. Ask them both to try to see things from the other person's perspective. If they've been fighting for a long time, maybe they'll be tired of fighting and ready to try to work this out.Thanks!
QuestionI always apologize even if the mistake is hers, but now she has put on pressure on me saying like she always messages me first, I don't wanna talk to her, etc. How do I explain her I'm just too angry?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou shouldn't apologize for someone else's mistakes. If you need time to process your emotions, simply tell her that, and that you'll be back in touch with her when you're ready to talk.Thanks!
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