A while ago two friends of mine got into an argument over the internet. One of them left the group chat we were talking in and a fight broke on whether the former friend shouldn’t have been too harsh or that he wasn’t responsible for the latter’s decision to leave the group. As I wasn’t there, people started explaining me what happened and then finally who’s to blame.
What’s interesting is that I’ve never seen someone who would take the situation in the third person’s view. No one talked about what happened without having a position and opinion on who’s to blame. Everyone seemed to be perceiving the situation based on their own beliefs and experiences. Now that I think about it, would it be possible to have someone who will take the neutral eye and connect the two sides together, so that none feel threatened to admit their faults and forgive one another? Wouldn’t anger just breed more anger?
How to have a neutral viewpoint
We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are. -Anaïs Nin
- Tap into the other person’s perspective. Often when we judge something, it’s based on our own perspective. There isn’t a universal “good or bad”, because someone’s “good” can be another person’s “bad”. What I do is I look at my thoughts in a third person perspective. Everything you’re feeling, thinking, and judging is part of a movie you’re watching. In reality you are not those things, you’re simply experiencing them. Now try to imagine switching from your “movie” to someone else’s “movie”. Imagine you’re experiencing every thought and feeling. You can’t judge those feelings because you have left the person and judgement you embodied before. By tapping into different perspectives you remain having an open mind and aren’t limited only by your own opinion.
Communicate. The reason why people argue is because they both want to be heard. Acknowledge all points and flaws of each opinion objectively and try to find a way to compromise. Try not to speak with an undertone of anger because when people are heated they tend to focus more on the tone of the words rather than the content.
Ask, “is it worth it?” A lot of arguments nowadays are based on misunderstanding and insignificant things. Ask if it’s really worth spending all your time and energy trying to prove yourself. Most of the time it’s easier to just call it off and accept that different people have different values and perspectives. If you think it is worth it, however, try to articulate your points in a calm and level way while acknowledging the other person’s points. If you have to criticize, go at the points and not the person. If the other person is just steaming out anger, try to keep your ground and try not to defend yourself right away. Once you react in anger, things will only get worse.
Find the source of your anger. Although you may not act angry, you still may experience the emotion. And that’s completely okay. You may want to find a place where you can sit quietly. Then, ask if something someone said made you feel hurt or misunderstood and you wanted to correct them. Question what was one specific thing that set you off, and ask why. Did they contradict your values and morals? Did you have expectations? Make this experience something you can grow from, and sometimes that is something that is much more worth taking away from an argument than the justification that you are right and they are wrong.
Walk away. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just walk away. When the other person gets too aggressive or you just feel overwhelmed. If you can’t walk away, tell the other person that you’ll think about it and then get to them later, or simply you don’t want to argue at the moment. Note that they might get angry or accuse you of not listening to them; it’s happened to me before. If this happens, remind yourself the reason you chose to walk away: to keep your peace. Try to let them know this. If they still don’t respect that, then start considering if the friendship is really healthy or not.