I was conditioned from a really young age to be passive and go along with whatever was happening (mostly because of my dad’s temper. He was never abusive but he was very angry and it was never worth the battle to disagree with him), so now everytime i get into a disagreement or heated discussion with someone I end up crying and choking up to the point that I can’t get a sentence out. Do you have any advice for being able to argue inspite of this?
realsocialskills said:
A few suggestions:
It might help to communicate more slowly when things aren’t urgent. For instance:
  • Some conversations might be possible for you to have over email, but not in person
  • It’s ok to say “let’s move this conversation to email so I can figure out what I think without melting down”
  • It’s also ok to need to pause the conversation from time to time
  • Needing the conversation to be over for a while doesn’t mean you’ve conceded the point
  • Some things are urgent, but a lot of conversations can be slowed down

Learn to use the word “maybe”:

  • It’s ok not to know what you want
  • It’s ok not to know whether you’re ok with something
  • It’s ok to need time to figure it out
  • “Maybe” is an important word, you don’t always have to say yes or no immediately

It might help not to rely so much on your voice:

  • A lot of people who can’t get words out for various reasons can still type
  • You might find that typing is more reliable than speech for you when a conversation gets emotionally intense
  • An iPad can be really useful for this since it is very portable
  • You can use a text-to-speech app (Verbally is a free one, Proloquo4Text is a dramatically better but also more expensive one),
  • Or you can even type in Notes and show the screen to the person you’re talking to
  • Or sometimes typing the thing first can make it possible to say the thing with your voice.

It might help to make less eye contact:

  • If you’re intimidated, looking at someone’s face can make matters worse
  • If you aren’t looking at their face, it might be easier to think and speak
Do any of y’all have suggestions for things that help with this?

sqbr said:

My main problem is an anxiety disorder so it might be different, but aside from the stuff above: The most useful (but difficult!) thing long term has been finding someone I feel comfortable enough with that I can freak out and cry for a bit during an argument and they give me some space, then when I calm down enough we can get back to the argument. Similarly useful has been getting into (non real time) intense but good natured discussions online where noone knows I’m freaking out. In both cases this has helped me get over my “arguing leads to BADNESS” emotional block. Also I’ve been telling people I MIGHT freak out if we get into an argument, and seeing how they respond, and this gives me a pool of people I feel less tense about arguing with.

Also for topics where I am more likely to freak out I write locked journal posts etc working through my POV with trusted friends, so I have more momentum in real time face to face arguments. My brain doesn’t have time to realise I’m arguing and freak out.