healthy arguing

1-Minute Read: 5 Rules to Healthy Arguing

5 rules 2You might be thinking “Healthy arguing?! What is this woman talking about?” It’s the art of managing how you conduct yourself during a disagreement or argument which proves to be beneficial to everyone involved.

So, as promised in my previous newsletter, here are the rules to healthy arguing.

  1. Choose your setting. You should have a say so as to when and where you are while you talk about something important or emotional. It is okay to say “I am not in a calm place to be discussing this, can we talk tonight after the children are asleep”?

  2. Set time limits. My suggestion is that an intense argument should not last longer than 30 or 45 minutes, but you will need to figure out what works best for you. It’s okay to end a discussion (for the moment) and return to it at another time — even if nothing has been resolved. Sometimes it is not easy to identify a start point and an end point. Arguing is a process.

  3. Have realistic expectations. When you sit down to discuss an issue, be clear that you may not come to an agreement or resolve the issue. I realize that many people prefer to have an argument resolved. I do not think that resolving an issue during the first debate is the goal. It is the hope. Being heard and communicating effectively is a more realistic goal. There is great value in knowing how to lovingly hold the tension in a relationship — even when you haven’t solved an issue.

  4. Use “I statements” (often). This means speak with your feelings and own them. For example, “I feel hurt when you accepted the dinner invitation without checking with me.” It’s harder for someone to argue with how you feel… and how you feel is valid — ALWAYS. The idea here is to avoid the blame game which is a common trap in an argument.

  5. Speak respectfully. This should be self-explanatory but just to be sure… no put-downs or cut-ups. No finger-pointing. No throwing or breaking things. Expect this from your partner also.

I know this seems easier said than done, so if you would like to roll-play let me know and I’ll be happy to help.


Michelle Kelley 10.14 c
Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

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