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How to Gracefully Back Down and End 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 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, 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.


In The Doghouse from California on July 03, 2008:

I hate arguments... they don't ever seem to be productive to me. I love discussions.

optimisticbob on January 25, 2008:

As I get older I somehow need to win less. I still get frustrated by convoluted logic and dogmatic or ad hominum arguments but for the most part I don't try to chew them up anymore.

sunstreeks from Western Washington on January 13, 2008:

Great ideas. I have a tendancy to always need the last word, it feels better doing so, but it causes more problems. He is much better at keeping a level head during our arguments.

REritr from California on January 06, 2008:

Some of us have been in relationships where no matter how fair we want to fight, the other person just doesn't get on the same page with us. Our upbringings color our reactions to things in so many ways.

My new husband and I are bascially crazy about one another in dozens of ways. But sometimes we seem to be polar opposites politically. Polotics is the ONLY thing we spat about on any regular basis. So I decided to try to find some common ground with him rather than keep pointing out our differences. He was a little surprised at first, but now even when we disagree, it's much more subdued. Who knows? this next election just might unite us both some day on that score!

Thanks for a well thought-out hub.

MortimerWorth from Germany on January 06, 2008:

Good stuff, but it takes a lot of maturity to engage your thinker like this when your mad. I always remember that in a relationship both parties sacrifice a lot. You can both be saying "I'm doing everything!" and both be right...so it's not really about being right sometimes. It's about not taking the other for granted

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on January 05, 2008:

Can't do it!!!!!!! There was a time once when I thought I was wrong; but I was wrong....He-he

We could all learn from your article, I love it

great HUB

regards Zsuzsy

soyelude from Lagos - Nigeria on January 05, 2008:

Arguments are a part of human nature...everybody wants to win! Good hub;quite instructive too.

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