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How to Gracefully Back Down and End an Argument

Kathryn Vercillo is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and blogger. She writes about relationships, health, food, and nutrition.


When You Exit Gracefully, How Can You Win an Argument?

When you're in the midst of an argument that seems like it will never end, you have two choices available to you. You can be stubborn about your point in the argument and keep it going as long as the other person will let you. Or you can back down from the argument.

Some people opt to back down but to do so in a way that's manipulative and really just postpones that argument to a later date. If you don't want to be that person, you need to learn how to back down from an argument gracefully.

Here are some tips for doing that:

  • Ask yourself what the argument is really about. Most of the time, our arguments are not about the topic that they appear to be about. Yeah, it's annoying that our husband didn't call when he was going to be late from work. But the argument isn't about the call. It's about feeling a lack of respect or fear that the relationship is changing or any number of things. If you can get to the root of the argument, you can deal with the real problem and end the petty bickering that's going on.
  • Think about the other person's side of the argument and give credence to their good points. Sometimes it's hard to see the point that another person is making when it's in direct opposition to your own. But if you take the time to step away from the argument for a minute and think about what the other person has said, you'll probably find that there's at least one valid point being made. Focus on your agreement with that point in order to end the argument. After all, a fight can't happen if only one of you is fighting. "I agree with you" ends most disputes.
  • Admit the things that you were wrong about. Just like there must be something to agree with in the other person's argument, there must be something that you can find a little flawed in your own. Find that thing and admit that you were wrong about it. This humble approach may prompt the other person to admit that they were wrong about some things as well.
  • Make a statement along the lines of, "I'm not sure that we're ever going to agree about this, but I respect you enough to stop fighting about it." Unless the other person in the argument is really petty, he or she is going to stop arguing as well. No one wants to act as though they don't respect you. This generally diffuses the argument and lets you go your separate ways with your separate opinions, the relationship still intact.

We often stay in arguments much longer than we really want to because we're afraid to lose face by backing down. It's important to remember that choosing the relationship over the current argument could be the best thing that you can do in the situation. There's nothing about that to lose face over!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.