“That isn’t how you make Yorkshire pudding. No way!”
This was a conversation I overhead in a pub when in the UK last month visiting my mum. Us Brits love Yorkshire pudding and therefore we can be territorial over our recipes. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an English favourite made from eggs, flour, and milk (served as part of the traditional British Sunday roast with meat and lots of gravy ~ very healthy I know)!
These 2 women were arguing about whether you use milk or water.
For what it’s worth, I agreed with the milk lady (not that I’ve even ever made a Yorkshire pud). But this was not about milk and water. It was about who was right and who was wrong. It was about winning. It was about … the nonsense of the ego, really. Nothing that mattered. Certainly nothing that should cause any upset at all between two adults.
Even thought this back and forth had nothing to do with me, I did know was the best way the argument could have been won. And it’s not via a Google recipe search.
Winning is even simpler. It’s avoiding the argument in the first place. Nipping it in the bud before it begins. When you feel the flash of irritation/frustration/anger pique within you – you can choose to shut it down before it expands.
Mastering the art of allowing other people to be themselves without you having to change, convince or influence them, creates tremendous inner peace. Because here’s a truth that a lot people never accept: You can’t change anyone’s mind with force. About anything. Ever. So don’t try.
Here are 5 ways you can handle an (impending) argument instead:
- Change the subject.
There is nothing so swift and useful about a change in topic to diffuse what could become a blowout. If someone wants to argue with you about anything – political, personal, heck – the weather! – you can always divert attention to something else with a question, “What shall we eat?”, “Hey, have you seen X movie?”, “I wonder how long this restaurant has been around…”
- Be open to another point of view.
Even people who you don’t agree with can add value to you with a different opinion. If you have an open, curious mind and a non-defensive stance, you can have fun being an observer of other people and their way of looking at the word. And you might even learn something. Instead of defending your recipe, parenting style or way to manage your retirement fund, just listen. You may pick something useful up. And if not – who cares? It’s better than using your precious energy in a unproductive brawl.
- Discern between lively conversation and an argument.
It’s easy to get our backs up waaaay too fast when someone challenges you or clashes with you. A difference in opinion and a thoughtful debate can be fun when done in positive spirits. Some of the most interesting parties I’ve ever attended have been when smart people discuss differing points of you with passion and fervor. The art of good conversation is the art of entertaining new thoughts and ideas and sharing them with other people who can spar with you.
- Sprinkle in some humor.
Laughing off something that could offend or develop into a dispute is a wonderful way to diffuse it. I once heard someone do this and thought she was really cool. It was a hot day and she stated the temperature in celsius that day (I’m still a celsius girl so I knew it, too).
A man told her she was off with the numbers based on his calculation. She said, “Please don’t make that mean I have to change my outfit now!” with a warm laugh. Good for her I thought. It wasn’t worth another word. And it showed she cared about his feelings, too. By not proving him wrong. How awesome.
- Just breathe.
If more of us just took a 10 second pause before speaking when we feel our tempers ignite, our relationships would drastically improve. And experiencing ease is a big part of a calm and happy life. We can choose stillness over stress! At any time. It’s always available.
Applying these tips last month, especially #1, ensured sure my mum and I had the most fun and stress-free time we’ve had together in years.
What argument can you avoid this week before it begins?
Or do you have a tip to share on this topic? I love learning from you. Please share with me in the comments box below!