Disagreements are an unavoidable part of life. No matter how much we try, we just can’t get along with everyone all the time. What we can do, however, is change our reactions and our approach to navigating these difficult moments. Naturally, how we fight with our spouse will differ from how we argue with a child, family member, co-worker or even a stranger.

Regardless of the nature of your relationship, here are some suggestions for finding a silver lining in even the most uncomfortable of confrontations.

Pick Your Fights

Usually, there’s a moment before an argument starts when we think about the situation and make a decision to pursue the battle. In that moment, weigh the importance of the issue.  Is it really worth turning into a big deal? After 12 years of asking your spouse to pick up their socks, do you think it’s going to change this time? Probably not. Consider moving the socks for them. Chances are, they are picking up after you in some way too.

Don’t Bring Up the Past

Stay in the present. We might be tempted to bring up some ancient history to further prove our point but all that does is detract from the conversation that needs to take place in the here and now. It’s also worth noting that, perhaps, it might be time to let certain things go. If you hold on to resentment, it will only make matters worse.

Being Right vs. Being Happy

This is a hard one for most people. When the objective of an argument is to be proven right and have the other person concede to their faulty thinking, no one wins. Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? Guess what? You can both be a little right and a little wrong. Accepting this possibility takes away the need for people to defend themselves which, in the end, will lead to a more honest conversation.

Listen

It can be so hard to stay still and be quiet when you feel like someone else is saying all the wrong things, but it’s important to listen. It shows you are respectful and are willing to give the other person the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings. And, hey, you might actually learn something. In the midst of their ramblings, something may resonate with you.

Be Ready to Apologize

Everyone has a right to be upset and we all have a right to speak up for ourselves. There is no need to apologize for that. However, in the course of your discussion, you may have said some things that, intentionally or unintentionally, hurt the other person and, for that, you should offer an apology.

When all else fails, remember to treat others in a way that you want to be treated. We all want to be heard and feel validated. There’s so much fighting in this world, let’s do all that we can to keep the peace in our own lives.