How To Be Stoic During An Argument

How To Be Stoic During An Argument

Remaining composed during heated disputes requires resilience most of us don’t inherently possess. When tensions run high, keeping a level head often raises emotions that bring out our worst instincts. We’ve all found ourselves in arguments where anger, ego, and knee-jerk reactions only escalate, making things worse rather than better. Yet cultivated skills of rationality, self-awareness, communication wisdom, and emotional intelligence can steer arguments to more thoughtful places. By engaging some of the core principles of stoicism – the ancient philosophical approach focused on overcoming destructive impulses through logic, calmness, and clear perception of one’s mental state – we can transform disagreements from harmful to constructive.

Understand the Root of Emotions

When anger or hurt arises during the conflict, pause to question where these feelings stem from. Ask reflective questions like: “What past experiences or core values are being triggered right now? What insecurities are being projected onto this situation?” Uncovering root issues provides self-awareness so emotions can be managed rather than control responses. After an argument, journaling can help identify patterns that send people down unproductive paths. Knowing emotional triggers better equips one to prepare thoughtful responses next time. Taking a non-judgmental, curious approach to understanding one’s emotions diffuses defensiveness.

Practice Mindfulness Techniques

When overwhelmed, they take three slow, deep breaths and flood the body with calming oxytocin. Clearing the mind thoroughly for 1-2 minutes redirects focus away from adrenaline-inducing mental loops. Sitting comfortably with eyes closed and concentrating solely on breathing, senses, and the physical present, letting thoughts float by without judgment before refocusing, can reset the nervous system, preventing involuntary reactions. This mindfulness practice creates space between the emotion and the reaction, allowing more intentional responses.

Speak Slowly and Calmly

Making a concerted effort to speak slower and use a calm, even tone when disagreements get tense can be helpful. Often, people mirror a rising volume and speed, feeding the fire. Purposefully slowing speech allows the logical brain to catch up so words and perspectives can be consciously chosen. Responding slowly with validation of concerns can prevent further escalation. Speaking less and listening more tends to elicit reciprocal openness from others.

Question Flawed Reasoning

When embroiled in an argument, it’s easy to rely on fallacies like ad hominem attacks, false dichotomies, and hasty generalizations. Employing these tactics undermines productive debate while calling them out calmly can steer things in a reasonable direction. Reviewing arguments for glaring fallacies and asking clarifying questions if one suspects flawed reasoning prevents the unproductive spinning of wheels. Moving talks to focus on evidence and logic lessens subjective distortions.

Find Common Ground

Even when disagreements feel intractable, finding small patches of common ground can ease tensions enough to collaborate on solutions. Asking sincere questions to understand all perspectives and summarizing what one hears can show a grasp of another’s stance and avoid mischaracterizations that fuel defensiveness. Identifying shared concerns and values underlying the conflict shifts talks from partisan fighting to cooperative problem-solving. Seeking some sliver of overlap resets the tone markedly.

Take Breaks

Taking short breaks during heated exchanges allows both parties to physically and emotionally reset by taking some space. Going for a short walk, drinking water, or doing breathing exercises halts downward spirals before they get out of hand. Breaks clear one’s head to re-approach talks with patience and clarify issues constructively. This self-care prevents digging into entrenched positions that impede progress.

Case Study: Danny’s Stoic Practice

Danny was known for getting worked up and emotional during arguments with his wife. He would often raise his voice, make hurtful comments, and have trouble seeing her perspective, which led to destructive fighting rather than resolutions.

This pattern came to a head after a heated argument where Danny found himself so upset he stormed out of the house for hours. He knew something needed to change in how he communicated during conflicts.

Danny took a stoic approach by working on self-awareness, mindfulness techniques, and other strategies before the next disagreement arose. He reflected on why specific comments triggered oversized reactions based on past experiences of feeling powerless. Doing this allowed Danny to gain insight into his raw spots.

The next time Danny’s wife criticized something he did, he took some slow, deep breaths rather than feeling flooded right away. He concentrated on keeping an even, low tone while validating her concerns. This prevented the upward spiral he was used to.

Danny also started summarizing what he heard her say and looking for common ground they could agree on. He saw how some of their core values around family were aligned even if the approaches differed. Keeping the discussion focused on practical solutions rather than blame was constructive.

While Danny didn’t become the perfect stoic overnight, putting various practices in place allowed him to substantially improve how he navigated disagreements with his wife over time. Arguments went from being an inevitable source of distress to opportunities for growth and mutual understanding. Danny’s marriage greatly benefitted from this emotional and communicative progress.

Key Takeaways

  • Learn what underlying triggers are setting off your reactions so you can proactively calm rising distress.
  • Reset heightened emotions through reflective pauses and mindfulness habits.
  • Modulate the intensity level by speaking slowly and keeping an even tone.
  • Detect flawed reasoning that derails productive talks.
  • Uncover mutual priorities and shared concerns rather than fixating on differences.
  • Seek an understanding of other perspectives to avoid distorted personalization.
  • Concentrate joint efforts on clearly defining and resolving the core issue.


By developing self-awareness around our emotional triggers, actively applying calming practices, communicating judiciously, identifying faulty logic, emphasizing common ground, avoiding ego-centrism, and prioritizing collaborative problem-solving, we can cultivate mental composure and rational clarity to have constructive discussions rather than destructive arguments. Though challenging at times, the principles of stoicism provide a guidepost to engage others with more empathy, equipoise, and solution-focused intention during even heated conflicts. Putting these level-headed approaches into practice leads to growth in our maturity, self-control, and interpersonal wisdom over time.