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How to Get Your Point Across Calmly and Effectively

Debate

“Those that know, do. Those that understand, teach.” ~Aristotle

I’ve been mostly introverted for a majority of my life, often running away from issues that could cause a damaging conversation between me and another person.

Experience has taught me that when I get upset, I don’t naturally handle my hardship with grace.

I worked as a restaurant manager for some years, and it was just too easy to react to the frustration I felt when an employee disregarded my request that they stock the bathroom with paper towels, or wash the front windows.

I would either explode, or I would remain silent. I couldn’t figure out how to simply approach the person and work through the issue. And, of course, as the restaurant is an incredibly fast-paced environment, there was no time to process these dysfunctional circumstances.

But as life naturally works out, I found myself unemployed for a small stint, whereupon I had the chance to muse over the past and discover the reasons why my voice wasn’t being heard and understood.

And we all want to be understood. Maybe you relate to my experience in that, at times, no matter how hard you try, it seems that no one gets it. Then we make efforts to force people to appreciate us, defending our case over and over, which can simply create negativity and make the situation more incomprehensible.

If you find this happening, pause for a moment. Consider the idea that, in many cases, we are more likely to be understood by others if we are understanding of them.

This does take a bite out of the ego, and yeah—that hurts.

But it doesn’t mean dropping your position. It will actually strengthen your case to learn and respect the opinions of others—even when they are disrespectful of yours. More often than not, you will find that they eventually return the favor.

You can sit quietly on the couch in your own home and ponder another person’s viewpoint.

This is the foundation to effectively debating your opinions. I follow this concept and frequently find that my voice is heard and accepted amongst people who have differing opinions than my own.

Here are some tips that can help you get that long-awaited point across:

1. Understand that your anger is a normal, natural reaction.

It’s okay to feel angry about a wrongdoing. However, at a certain point, anger becomes a choice. It is at this time when you can make efforts to understand the other person’s position.

I catch myself getting angry at just about every inconvenience, but through some practice I am able to move past the feeling without becoming its victim.

2. Do not express your view until you feel calm and comfortable.

Many times we have a tiny intuitive voice in our mind that tells us to be patient, but because it is tiny, we ignore it. When we do so, we may say something that will be counterproductive to our goal.

3. Set the goal of helping others.

If you want to express your opinion about an important issue, but you do not have the benefit of others in mind, you may inadvertently come across as selfish or boorish.

4. Relate to the opinions of others.

Consider the phrase, “I see where you’re coming from.” Pause on that phrase until you actually do understand their side.

Many people will say, “I see where you’re coming from—but…” This won’t show them that you really get it.  Think of a time you have been in their position either on a larger or smaller scale. Often, if you relay this story to them, it assures them you really do get it.

5. Don’t fight.

The moment you are in an argument and you begin to raise your voice, get upset, flail your arms, speak ill of others, you become irrational. People are rarely going to hear you in this state of mind.

6. Try not to take things personally.

“Right and wrong” are harsh words to describe concepts that either “work or may not work.” Consider this when you begin to take the argument personally.

7. Do not tell a person they are wrong.

Perhaps you don’t agree with their position, but insulting them, cutting them off, will only cause them to get defensive, and perhaps do the same to you.

8. If you’re unable to communicate effectively, take responsibility for that.

If you do not successfully get your point across, do not solely blame the other person. Conversation is never less than a two-way street.

Your mind will tell you the places where you made a mistake. Simply reflect on these and decide what will be better to do the next time.

9. Learn when to walk away.

If you feel that you are at that messy point where you can’t get the other person to listen, just let it go.  You can revisit the issue later, but forcing it now will only make things worse.

It’s also true that space and time after a confusing conversation will help others to reflect on the important points that you discussed, which will help them to identify with your position.

What helps you speak your mind calmly and effectively?

Photo by Sharon Mollerus

Avatar of Eva Barrow

About Eva Barrow

Eva Barrow has a B.A. in English Literature and 10 years restaurant experience. She now works as an Administrative Assistant to an independent living residence for older adults.

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  • Joe

    Eva…opening quote incorrect…it’s “those that know, do…..”. Makes no sense the way you’ve quoted it.

  • freddo

    Thank you for this article. It is hard being an introvert in an extrovert world!!

  • Tim

    I am going to ruminate on your post a little. I usually don’t feel a lot of anger, but I was surprised at how I exploded on a recent trip to Italy. The first day there I caught a guy pick pocketing me, and the police wouldn’t come to my aide. A few days later, I was fined on a crowded bus because I couldn’t even get to the machine to validate my family’s bus ticket, the bus was so crowded. The authorities took me and my family away to give us an exorbitant fine, but they wouldn’t listen to our pleas. I finally let it all out and yelled over all the injustices I had suffered on my trip. It actually felt really good to let it all out. Sometimes you get into a situation that’s completely unfair and there is nothing you can do about it.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for pointing this out! It should have been “Those that do, know.” I somehow missed that…

    Lori

  • Jules

    Great article! I’m gonna post the tips in my office. I do get angry often (I’m not an introvert and almost always speak my mind at work). These tips will help me channel that anger into a more productive response/reaction. Thanks, Eva!

  • ajay

    good one dear..will you pls give me how to have self control…I want to become a good guy…I wanna control lust..pls guide me

  • Nicole Walraven

    a good article, especially helpful if you tend to blow up during confrontations. i have the opposite problem, unfortunately. i’ve wired myself to try and avoid confrontation, so that my immediate response to any disagreement is to just say, ok, we disagree, and clam up. no discussion, even if my feelings about it are as valid as the other person’s. then 30 minutes later, I’ll still be working through all my feelings about the situation, thinking of things i could have said to get my point across, but unable to reopen the conversation when I’ve had a hand in closing it. what i need to work on, is staying calm, but not being afraid to deal with situations directly, even if i do start to get a little heated.

  • Aldo

    I needed this. Thank you. It reinforced what I already felt.

  • Charan

    This blog helped me to reiterate in mind that I can look at their point of view also…

  • Lauren

    Thank you, Eva. This is very helpful. Keep writing.

  • CJ

    I also try to avoid confrontation, but I am really working on changing that because I want to be more honest. I learned a new approach recently, which helped me in a “talk” (rather than a confrontation) I had to have with a co-worker. Instead of accusing, I simply said, “This is what I’ve observed…” It allowed me to deflect potential defensiveness and put my points in a more gentle and non-threatening way.

  • http://reachyourpower.com/ Josh Emmanuel

    Great post.

    Learning when to walk away is so key. It seems passive but is very active. It takes you out of the game..

    Disagree with feeling “comfortable” though. Some things may never be comfortable for some people to discuss. You’ve just gotta go through it.

    Looking forward to more articles!

    -Josh

  • Nicole Walraven

    A good approach. I also try to keep things in a more neutral tone rather than accusing, or pushing my point as the “right” one. Another phrase I find helpful is “In my experience”. This reinforces that everyone brings a different perspective to an issue, resulting in different, not right or wrong, opinions and responses. I’m working on not closing the door on discussion, because even though I have no interest in convincing other people my way is right, I think that sharing perspectives is essential to everyone’s growth. Even if we don’t convince each other, we will hopefully give the other person something to think about.

  • RandyH

    “we are more likely to be understood by others if we are understanding of them”… No truer statement and words to live by. Great article, Eva!

  • Abhi

    I often feel that way as well. I wonder when is a good time to re-initiate the conversation, especially if it is important enough to get my point across.

  • Shannon

    I need to read this everyday before I leave the house! Thank you.

  • Mahesh

    Nice post, Eva. Very crisp content and helpful for day to day life to convey one’s idea with calmness.