It gets frustrating when all YOU want to do is come up with constructive ways to improve a situation. You don’t start off criticizing or even talking about different viewpoints… maybe you are just trying to get folks involved. Not every argument is personal or about your relationship.
But along comes that ONE PERSON who just has to throw in a nasty about someone, dredges up something from the far-away past that has NOTHING to do with the discussion, and like a mad-dog, attacks. And then a bunch of people just jump on the bandwagon to throw nasty barbs around and no one even mentions the original issues anymore.
Some psychologists say that people who NEED to argue are doing it to boost their own self-esteem; they feel the need to impose their way to feel important. I imagine when they were young, they might have been the school-yard bullies, or maybe they were the ones picked on and now feel the need to attack before they are.
Unfortunately arguing back seems to only build their feeling of importance, maybe because they are getting such strong reactions and it seems to feed their needs. So really the best way to deal with the compulsive arguer is to just ignore them — I don’t think that is the easiest method for most of us and unfortunately things just seem to intensify.
It may take near super-human efforts, but the “experts” recommend not feeding into the arguments. Don’t try to make the aggressor see things your way. Don’t attack back. Ask questions, let someone explain their feelings. Do not let the aggressor, or you, make it personal. If you can, without confronting, try to steer the conversation back to the original intent; ask how he/she would recommend solving the ORIGINAL problem. Above all, stay calm (yes, if you are like me that might take counting SILENTLY to ten several times, lol).
If things are completely out-of-control, maybe you need to find a way to END the argument (preferably without coming to blows!). Try not to walk away in anger. Let the person know that they have been heard, whether or not you agree. If at all possible, find common ground in resolving the original issue. If there is anyway to think about the issue from their perspective, try, and let them know you are looking at it from their point of view. One way you MIGHT be able to end the argument is to suggest taking the time to think about it. Unfortunately, though, understand that some people won’t want to end the argument and you will have to find a way to walk away… even if it is just an excuse.
It’s difficult to get anything done constructively when there are those who are more interested in a power play or giving themselves a VOICE (possibly in the only way they think they can be heard). The sooner you can de-escalate the argument, the more chance you have to get back to your original purpose to possibly unite a group, initiate actions, or just simply raise interest. Remember that everyone will see things in a different way, it does pay to listen, but it also doesn’t mean that anyone needs to be berated or tormented.
Remember, smile and stay calm. Never lose your motivation. Don’t get discouraged.