How to argue with people: real life, trolling, the internet & social media the top 10 rules

Sometimes we don’t agree. I am a typical Libran – the star sign that likes to keep the peace. Arguments always upset me and I am your typical “people pleaser” I hate to disappoint and cause a stir. I am also a “first child” which means I like to do the right thing. But every now and then, I have a disagreement with someone and it really bothers me.

There is a knack to being a good arguer and many experts online give great advice about how to be a better person when under fire. Sure, it’s great to always keep your cool, but we are all human and we all get “hot under the collar” every now and then. If you learn to argue well you will be doing yourself and all your fellow humans a good turn.

Here are the 10 rules of a fair argument:

#1: Listen carefully to what the other person has to say

You know those people that aren’t really listening but are just thinking about what they are about to say next? Don’t be like that! Really listen to the other person’s words. Concentrate on not just the words but also the true meaning. Sometimes what we say is masked by other intentions. Listen carefully and don’t assume or pre-judge.

#2: Hold your tongue when you can

Sometimes I literally hold my tongue, or place a finger over my lips or a pen across my mouth (if in a meeting) this helps to remind me not to talk. If you are talking you’re not listening.

#3: Take a breath before talking

When you are ready to speak, take a big breath first. This will help to rebalance your energies and reset the mood. Too often we rush into an argument with little forethought or planning and we can find ourselves embroiled in something that we really didn’t need to get into.


#4: Check yourself for internal fire

What is going on inside? Feel your body with your mind and check for strong emotions. Is your gut feeling heavy? Are the hairs on the back of your neck prickling? Are you getting hot and bothered? Are you clenching your fist? Make sure you check your internal mood so that you don’t react inappropriately.

#5: Always be respectful

Bryant Harrison McGill is an American self-development activist who often speaks about personal freedom and human rights. He has famously said, “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

#6: Avoid yelling and shouting

Once you lose your cool, you have lost the argument anyway. There is never a need to shout, certainly not in the workplace and not at home. I have to admit that when I get upset, I can often raise my voice without even realising it. This shows weakness and will generally put the other person off side right away.

#7: Never name call or insult

This is really a dumb thing to do because it makes the person you are arguing with completely shut down in most cases. Using foul language or name-calling will not do your cause any good. This is especially a no-no when dealing with children or minors. Watch your language and treat people with respect.

#8: Always debate fairly

There are two sides to every argument, if not more. Allow people to have their say, even if it sounds preposterous to you. A healthy debate can actually strengthen a relationship if done with respect. Always listen to the other person and give them the right of reply when you make your point.

#9: Take your time

Don’t rush through your argument. Think before speaking. If the argument is happening via email, take an hour to gather your thoughts, or even better, sleep on it.

#10: It’s OK to disagree

Remember that we don’t always need to agree. People can have differing opinions on things and that’s part of the fun of life. Also, sometimes people may not agree with us today, but they may come to share our thoughts over time. As we learn and grow, the things people said to us yesterday or yesteryear start to sink in – and may become our thoughts for tomorrow. Learn to work with others even when you have differing opinions. It’s all part of leading a rich and fulfilling life.


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