Four Ways to Respectfully End a Contentious Conversation

One thing we can all agree about is that we don’t always agree with one another. Learning to agree to disagree is an essential part of maintaining relationships. Unfortunately, as America becomes more and more divided, it is harder and harder to disagree in healthy ways.

Both television and social networks reflect the strain political disagreements place on people with their families, friends, and co-workers.
Sometimes it can seem impossible to have a civil conversation with someone you don’t agree with.

Arguments with friends and loved ones can cost you friendships and create enormous relational stress. Meanwhile, an argument with a boss or co-worker could cost you your job. If you find yourself in a heated exchange and you need to diffuse it fast, here are some ways you can politely end that difficult conversation.


When we argue, it is important that we’re not merely wanting the other to hear what we have to say, but that we are listening to them as well. If you want to end an argument respectfully, stay quiet and let the person talk without interruption. You may want to argue with them or defend yourself, but if you want to end the conversation positively, it’s best to let them have the last word.

Ask Questions

People love to be asked questions. So use your natural curiosity to ask questions of the person you’re arguing with. Don’t be sarcastic and don’t be condescending or rude. Relate to them with genuine interest. Even if you already know the answer (or don’t care to hear what it is), asking questions will diffuse the argument by showing the other person that you’re willing to hear them out. You can then end the conversation politely. Simply say something like, “That’s an interesting perspective. I never thought about it that way,” and graciously remove yourself from the argument.

Identify Shared Beliefs

To end an argument in a healthy way, you can guide the conversation toward things you both agree on. This makes it easier to end the discussion on a positive note. If they try to steer the conversation back to the heated issue, change the subject to something positive, or let them speak then say “I can respect that. Thanks for sharing your point of view with me.”

Remember the Golden Rule

There’s a reason so many of us have heard the old adage, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Treating other people as you would like to be treated is a basic principle for life. When you strongly disagree with someone, it can be challenging to treat them with kindness. But by having empathy for others, you’ll develop character and patience; qualities that will serve you for a lifetime.

At Chaos to Calm Counseling, we work with couples and individuals to facilitate healthy relationships for the betterment of families and society at large. Learn more about our team, schedule a free consult, or call us at (978) 241-2881.