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How to Stop an Argument

While an argument can be a healthy part of a relationship, it's easy to take things too far and potentially say something you'll regret. In such an instance, you'll find yourself in the middle of an argument that must be stopped immediately in order to prevent emotional damage. If you sense that an argument is getting out of hand, find a way to stop it from getting any worse. You can put an immediate stop to an argument by leaving the room or finding a different task to occupy your mind and take it off of the argument.


EditPutting a Verbal Stop to an Argument

  1. Focus on resolving the core issue underlying the argument. When you’re in an argument with a partner or old friend, it can be easy to bring up old baggage. If you’re arguing with an acquaintance or work associate, you might be tempted to only deal with surface-level problems. Instead of taking either of these approaches, try to mutually resolve the core problem without bringing up past incidents or superficial disagreements.[1]
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    • For example, say that your partner is angry with you for hanging out with friends over the weekend. While you need to respond to that complaint, the deeper underlying issue may be that your partner doesn’t feel appreciated in the relationship.
    • If you’re unsure of what the underlying issue is, just ask: “What’s the main problem that you’d like for us to resolve here?”
  2. Explain that you’re willing to compromise on the issue at hand. People often get into arguments when 1 or both of the individuals feel that the other is taking an inflexible or unfair position. In many cases, showing that you’re willing to compromise will be enough to stop the argument then and there.[2]
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    • For example, if you’re arguing with a roommate over whose turn it is to wash dishes, say something like, “I’ll wash them this time, but in the future, I’d appreciate it if you and your boyfriend washed the dishes after making a huge meal together.”
    • Or, if a work colleague accuses you of hogging the spotlight on a project, say, “You may be right about that. I like to take pride in my work, but I’ll take some time to think about what you’ve said.”
  3. Acknowledge the validity of the other person’s feelings. Even if you and the person you’re arguing with disagree about an important topic, you can still show that you respect their feelings and emotions. This shows that you’re interested in seeing things from the other person’s perspective and aren’t trying to intentionally hurt them. In many cases, this will be enough to stop the argument, or at least to de-escalate rising anger.[3]
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    • Say something like, “Your feelings are valid and you have every right to feel the way that you do. I hope I haven’t done anything to make you feel otherwise.”
  4. Apologize if you’ve done something to hurt the other person. If you’re clearly in the wrong, there’s nothing to be gained by sticking to your guns and dragging an argument out. Instead, make a clear, direct apology for what you did to upset the person.[4] If you don’t know what you’ve done to upset someone, ask them.
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    • For example, if you made a friend angry by criticizing them in front of a mutual acquaintance, say something like, “I’m sorry, I should’ve have acted that way. It seemed funny in the moment but now I realize I was wrong and I apologize.”
  5. Be honest about your own feelings and emotions. Emotional honesty can help defuse an argument and turn it into a productive conversation. By exposing your feelings to the person you’re arguing with, you’ll allow them to understand where you’re coming from. Try expressing yourself using statements beginning with “I feel like…” or reference a specific emotion that’s motivating you to argue.[5]
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    • For example, say something like, “I’m afraid that the fact that you didn’t kiss me goodnight last night may mean that you’re becoming less attracted to me. That’s why I’ve been acting angry all day.”
  6. Make a joke to set you and the person you’re arguing with at ease. If you’re normally on good terms with the person you’re arguing with, defuse the argument by dropping a joke into the conversation. This will signal that you’re not deeply angry and are willing to stop the argument.[6] But, avoid making jokes that are mean-spirited, sarcastic, or at the other person’s expense. This kind of humor will only make the argument worse.
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    • For example, say something like, “If we don’t watch it, we’ll start to sound like the old couple that we saw arguing on the boardwalk!”

EditStopping the Argument Nonverbally

  1. Walk away from the argument to cool your temper. If you're at your wit's end regarding how to resolve the argument, physically walk away from the confrontation. Say to the person, "I'm not in the mood for this," and leave the room. Or, try saying, "I don't want my temper to get the better of me so I'm going to walk away now." Give the person space for a few hours while you both cool down.[7]
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    • Avoid slamming doors or showing other signs of anger as you leave.
  2. Go to sleep and reevaluate your feelings in the morning. If you're arguing at your home, go into your bedroom and lay down to get some rest. Go to sleep if you can. Getting a night's rest will help you have a better perspective on the argument in the morning and will help the person who you’re fighting with calm down and reconsider their feelings as well.[8]
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    • If you’re arguing with a partner or spouse and the 2 of you typically share a bed, 1 of you may need to sleep on the sofa or in a guest room so that the argument doesn't start back up in the middle of the night.
  3. Listen to calming music until your bad mood fades away. Listening to soothing instrumental music is a great way to chill yourself out. A calm song can help put you into a different state of mind and will give you time to reflect on any issues underlying the argument.[9] Calm yourself down by listening to music for at least 15–20 minutes before you return to speak with the person were arguing with.
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    • Listen to music in a different room than the person you argued with is in so you won't be tempted to reengage in the fight.
  4. Go get ice cream or see a movie to distract you both from the argument. If you and the person you’re arguing with are willing to suspend the argument and continue spending time together, visit a local ice cream parlor, movie theater, bowling alley, or coffee shop. Spending time together having fun or eating and drinking without arguing may show how unnecessary the argument was to begin with.[10]
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    • An activity—like eating ice cream or seeing a movie—that gets you both out of the house and into public space can help make the argument seem small and unimportant.

EditPreventing Future Arguments

  1. Keep your voice at a normal speaking level. It may seem like obvious advice, but a great way to prevent arguments from happening is to avoid raising your voice. If you raise your voice, the person you’re speaking to will take it as a sign of hostility or aggression. If you’re inclined to shout at someone, try whispering instead. You’ll come across as calm and the conversation won’t become an argument.[11]
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    • If you raise the volume of your voice, the other person will likely raise their voice as well and turn things into a shouting match.
  2. Calm the situation down if you sense that things are escalating. What starts out as a relatively civil conversation can, in a matter of minutes, turn into an angry argument. Try to stop the conversation from escalating before it blows up into a large fight. So, if the person you’re arguing with starts raising their voice, making over-exaggerated claims, or saying things you know they’ll regret later, take steps to calm them down.[12]
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    • Say something like, “I’m not trying to upset you and would rather this didn’t become an argument. Let’s take a 5 minute break and try talking again then.”
  3. Let the other person finish speaking before you express your thoughts. In a tense conversation, it can be tempting to interrupt the other speaker to disagree with them or inform them of your opinion. However, if the 2 of you start to mutually interrupt one another, a level-headed conversation can quickly become an argument.[13]
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    • If the other person interrupts you, say something like, “I do care about what you think and I value your opinion, but please don’t interrupt me while I’m speaking.”
  4. Relate statements to yourself rather than the other person. In other words, try making statements that begin with “I” and not with “you.” By phrasing your sentences this way, you’ll show that you’re trying to communicate your thoughts to the other person and they won’t feel as though they’re being attacked or having words put in their mouth. You’ll be able to have a calm conversation rather than an argument.[14]
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    • So, avoid saying, “You never listen and you don’t respect my opinion about anything!” Instead, try something like, “I often feel like I’m not being heard by you or as if my opinion isn’t very highly valued.”



  • While it can be tempting to say something insulting after an argument to have the "last word," try to resist this temptation. Not only will ending an argument this way hurt the other person's feelings, it will give them an opportunity to reply and reignite the fight.
  • Keep in mind that a good compromise involves meeting in the middle with the person you’re arguing with. When you compromise, don’t just apologize and say that the problem is all your fault.


  • If you frequently have aggressive arguments with your spouse or partner or feel that they verbally abuse you, raise the issue with them or talk to a professional counselor.[15]

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from How to of the Day