You know the old adage: cooler heads prevail. To break that down, it means that those who are calmer and more focused are the most likely to succeed or have the greatest influence on events. When it comes to arguments, having a cooler head is the best method. It preserves the relationship between you and the other person, and you actually may learn something about the other person's perspective. That's what today is about: arguments.
An argument is a debate with more letters. Two people with different perspectives getting together to discuss their perspective on an issue. Bill Nye did it with creationist scientist Ken Ham, and while by the end of the debate they still disagreed, they talked it out like rational adults. That's how an argument should go down: people stating their perspectives and discussing and questioning the opposing points. Yet we often don't see that in our personal lives.
It's so silly that the vast majority of people become hostile in arguments. There's such a connotation to the word that when you read "argument" you think of some heated people raising their voices and eventually hurling insults. But that doesn't have to be the case. Too often do we feel that because our ideas are being attacked, that we are being attacked. Your ideas aren't you. Your ideas are a part of you, but they're not you. You're not being attacked when your beliefs or ideas are questioned. Your ideas and beliefs are being questioned.
So many people think of arguments as a battle; something you win or lose. Now, nobody likes to lose, and that's where hostility comes from in arguments. You feel you're being attacked, you feel you're going to lose because you're being attacked, and so your primal brain kicks in and you get hostile. It becomes a battle for you and that's actually how you lose, or cause damage to your relationship. You've got to stay cool.
An argument is an exchange of ideas. It's the perfect chance for you to learn if you keep an open mind. Even if at the end of the argument someone walks away not having convinced the other, you both/all can be pleased in the fact that you learned something. This is something everyone should come to understand. Arguments aren't about being right, they're about explaining your ideas, and learning about others.
So how can you do that? How can you go from being hostile in an argument to being cool and calm?
Recognize that you're not under attack.
You're not under attack. Somebody just has a different perspective than you. Just because they don't agree with you doesn't mean that they hate you. Everybody is different and has had different experiences so finding out why they have that perspective is important to understanding that perspective.
Keep the tone of the argument calm. If someone starts to speak too quickly or too loudly, bring it back down by either reminding them to speak calmly, or by speaking quieter and slower. It forces the other person to listen to what you're saying, and it keeps them at a more manageable level. Speaking calmly and slowly also allows you more time to think of your words before you say them, and as you say them.
Ask questions often
That's why you're here. To learn. You're simultaneously trying to learn their perspective, and explain yours. So question them. Why do you think that way? Can you explain that idea more for me? I want to understand where you're coming from, can you please elaborate?
Keep focused on the issue
Lots of times in arguments, when people get hostile, they tend to bring up unrelated points to enforce their perspective. It's important to be mindful of this and shut down any of these distractions as soon as they come up. You can do it calmly by saying that the extra points aren't related to the topic, and that you should just keep to the thing you're arguing about. In personal relationships you're usually arguing to resolve a problem, so focus on that.
To better yourself, try to reframe the argument as a discussion and keep calm. No personal attacks, no yelling, no snapping or exaggerations. Be honest, be calm, and show love to the other person. Arguing isn't always fun, and with hostility, it can leave cracks in your relationships. If everyone walks away from an argument feeling upset, then what've you really accomplished? Even if you were right, but now the other person is upset, did you really win?