How to Argue the Healthy Way

In a perfect world, and in a perfect relationship, couples would get along around the clock. But the reality is: even loving couples disagree, argue, and fight. So what’s the healthy way to approach and cope with contention?

Ron McMillan, co-author of the book “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High” shares how to argue the healthy way.

1. Manage your thoughts. Soften your judgments by asking yourself why a reasonable, rational and decent person would do what your significant other is doing.

2. Affirm before you complain. Don’t start by diving into the issue. Establish emotional safety by letting your significant other know you respect and care about him or her.

3. Start with the facts. When you begin discussing the issue, strip out accusatory, judgmental and inflammatory language.

4. Be tentative but honest. Having laid out the facts, tell your significant other why you’re concerned. But don’t do it as an accusation, share it as an opinion.

5. Invite dialogue. After sharing your concerns, encourage your significant other to share his or hers—even if he or she disagrees with you. If you are open to hearing your significant other’s point of view, he or she will be more open to yours.

Ron McMillan is the four-time New York Times best-selling co-author of Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations, Influencer, and Change Anything. For more than 25 years, he has served as an expert and sought-after speaker in organizational behavior, interpersonal communication and behavior change. McMillan is also the co-founder of VitalSmarts, an innovator in corporate training and organizational performance. VitalSmarts has helped more than 300 of the Fortune 500 realize significant results using a proven method for driving rapid, sustainable and measurable change in behaviors. VitalSmarts has also been ranked eight times by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in America and has trained more than 800,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit:

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