Dealing With Problem People

How to Mediate an Argument between two Friends



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It’s really not a very pleasant thing when two of your friends have an argument, especially if it starts to get ugly. Most people’s instinct is to get away from both of them until they resolve their problem so as to avoid getting caught up in it, or being asked to take sides. And while that is certainly something that people should consider, a better choice might be to serve as mediator for the two of them since they seem to be having such trouble solving whatever the problem is on their own. There are actually some advantages to taking this approach; the first is that it might help to diffuse the problem before it gets out of hand, meaning things are said or done that could permanently damage the friendship between the two of them, and the other is that helping your friends instead of running from them will show them both that you are a good friend, not just the fair weather kind.

At any rate, the way to mediate an argument between two friends is to first meet with them both privately and alone to get each side of the story. When doing this, you need to listen carefully and that’s pretty much it. You don’t need to comment or make suggestions or lay blame anywhere. Your objective is to get to the bottom of what is upsetting your friends without injecting any of your own feelings or opinions. You might have to meet with each of them privately several times as you might find more questions while you’re gathering your information.

Then, once you are reasonably sure you have all the pertinent information, the best thing you can do is go somewhere and think about the problem as you see it, trying to be as open and objective as you possibly can, because at this stage it’s very easy to make snap judgments about who is right and who is wrong. To help you do this, you might even enlist the aid of yet another person; hopefully someone that doesn’t know your other two friends, and thus won’t swayed by other loyalties. Give them all the information and then listen with an open mind to what they have to say. And then, if you feel the need to debate some of the issues, go ahead, because you need to be clear on what you think is the problem and how it can be resolved.

And that is the next step; finding a middle ground that you can offer to your two friends that might hopefully serve as a way of coming back together to speak with one another in reasonable ways.

More often than not, when friends argue to the point of anger, it’s usually over something one has done that the other doesn’t like, and so, either the offended party has to be shown that the action wasn’t meant to harm or upset, or the offending party must apologize for the mistake that was made. Your job is to cause one of these two things to happen, or both, and the way to do that is by showing the person that needs to be convinced the wisdom of doing so.

In most instances, it’s this getting to the bottom of an issue that is really at stake, because people say all kinds of other things when angry; so if you can get the two of them to agree on what the real problem is, you can then get them to talk about just that, and then to see that it was a mistake that was made, not an intentional harm, and thus, it is something that can be fixed.

Set up a time for the three of you to talk, and then, be the person in the middle between the two of them directing the conversation so that other things don’t pop up and get in the way. Keep things focused on the real base problem and in most cases, most people will come to see that it was just a simple error and one or the other will grudgingly admit it, and then maybe apologize and then, get both to agree to not talk about it anymore as it’s been resolved.

And then, all you have to do is allow time to heal the wounds.

More about this author: Sam E. Jones

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