Ways to calm down an argument
What is an argument? In my opinion, an argument is a class of competing idea for supremacy. When a person argues from a particular point of view, that person puts himself on the line and therefore the ego is involved. It is a common human trait that we all want or need to be right and so we are sometimes prepared to argue to unrelentlessly to maintain our position. However after a protracted argument in which each person is trying to justify his or her position and to support that position no matter how illogical or wrong it might be, the parties stop listening to each other and only to themselves. At that point there is no use to present facts and figures but just to end the argument. But with each party so heated, how do you end or calm people down.
As a mediator within my community when people lock horns in this way. I stop and rephrase what I have heard. In rephrasing what I have heard I try to do several things:
1. Get each party to stop talking and take a breath
2. Highlight common grounds things they both agreed upon
3. Extricate values they both may share
5. Choice of words is important. It is important to use words that promote peace, harmony, unity not words that are likely to escalate the argument
4. Areas of disagreement
One surefire way to help to calm people down or to end an argument that has escalated out of control is to get people to focus on their underlying interests and to move away from positions. When people are stuck in their positions they cannot move but a skilled mediator will highlight the interest beneath that. Chances are both parties are interested in the same thing but have different ideas how to achieve it. At this point brainstorming ideas might be useful, taking into consideration the suggestion of both parties and possibly combining then to form a better one.
Encouraging people to have an open mind at this point is useful to getting them away from judgment to curiosity. Asking questions, probe for more information behind the questions are great ways to expand the mind and build consensus.