Here are nine surefire ways to keep your cool and communicate effectively during an argument, so you can walk away with your dignity intact:
Step away for a spell.
Too mad to express yourself coherently? Excuse yourself and offer to reconvene later. You can make your point far more effectively with a clear, calm head. Take time to de-stress and return later.
If someone phones during the fight, answer the call. Or make up your own distractions to help you change focus.
Do some daydreaming.
Intense anger often results in tunnel vision. Use your imagination as an antidote: Envision a calm place or an amusing situation.
If you see things heading down a dark or hurtful path, protect yourself by changing the subject, apologizing, agreeing or compromising.
Get the facts.
Anger won’t change the other person’s mind, but coming back with facts might. Call a temporary truce, then gather information that backs up your side of the argument.
After you’ve had a chance to collect your thoughts and determine what matters most, share your thoughts. Make sure you’re respectful, and steer clear of assigning blame. (The other person will be much more receptive.)
Be crystal clear about what you want to achieve as a result of your communication.
Limit yourself to three main points.
Any more than that, and you confuse your listener. Any fewer, and your message lacks substance.
Focus on the behavioral changes you’d like the other person to make.
The purpose of offering clear feedback is to improve performance, not to make an enemy by attacking your opponent’s self-confidence.