There are times in life when you feel that you have been done a disservice or you have not received the quality of service, or product, which you feel entitled to. When this happens, many people bottle it up for fear of having an argument. However, there is nothing to fear from making your feelings known. When it is done right, informing the other party of how you feel is actually doing them a service as they are then in a position to remedy the situation. In order to make your argument in the proper manner, you must first prepare your argument.

On many occasions, you will be able to prepare your argument quickly and attempt to resolve the situation immediately. However, there will be times when you need to take due care and attention to prepare your argument thoroughly. Whichever, situation arises, it is important that you consider some key criteria when you prepare your argument.

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8 Steps to prepare your argument

Implement the following 8 steps when you prepare your argument and you will have taken giant strides towards creating a courteous and constructive discussion.

1. Identify the appropriate person to talk to

Your argument may be concise, clear and convincing but unless it is delivered to somebody who has the authority to take the necessary action, your argument will fall on deaf ears. If you feel that the issue is one which needs to be dealt with by management, then do not settle for a discussion with a lower-ranked member of staff.

 2. Determine the best time to have the discussion

Choosing an appropriate time to have a discussion plays a key role in having a constructive conversation. For example, if you know that the other person is going to be busy at a particular time, then that time should be avoided as they will not be able to give their full attention to the discussion. Other times which might need to be avoided are directly before lunch or finishing time. In these instances their mind and attention has already started to move to a new location.

 3. Determine an appropriate location

When you are making a complaint, or argument, it is important to choose a location where the other person has their confidentiality and dignity respected. Try to find as private a location as you can to hold the discussion.

 4. Identify the feelings and emotions you experienced

It is important to acknowledge your emotions and feelings. When you bottle them up, it is both unhelpful and unhealthy. When you can explain your feelings, in a rational manner, it helps the other person to understand how important the issue is to you.

 5. Take responsibility for your feelings

Nobody can make you feel in a particular way. Regardless of what has happened, it is you that has chosen your reaction i.e. your feelings. Before you can properly explain your feelings to another person, you must first accept that they are actually your feelings.

 6. Identify exactly what it was that you disagree with

It is always best to enter these situations with a positive view of the other person. When you do this, you assume that they too will want to resolve the issue. In order for them to be able to do so, you must first be able to tell them exactly what it was that you disagreed with. Be as specific as possible. Remember, if they do not understand the exact nature of your complaint, they cannot be expected to resolve the issue.

 7. Decide on your keywords or phrases

It is important that you do not over rehearse or script your argument. Your argument must come across as sincere and genuine if you wish to the other person to take you seriously. When your argument sounds too rehearsed, it comes across as fake.  Rather than script the entire argument, note down the key points which you want to get across and focus on these.

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 8. Practice your argument

This may seem like it is contradicting the previous point. However, I am not suggesting that you learn your argument off by heart. Just practice it a few times, out loud, and in private, to ensure that it sounds right and feels natural. If it does not; make some small adjustments until it does.

You are now prepared to make your argument.

Preparing your argument is one great strategy for avoiding conflict. To learn more, check out our guide to How to Talk So Others Will Listen.

Preparation is a fundamental requirement when you need to make a complaint or argument.  By taking the time to prepare your argument, you greatly increase your chances of a successful outcome. You will also manage to maintain an amicable relationship with the other person. Rather than fear the situation, take the time to prepare your argument thoroughly and you will create a constructive situation which benefits both parties.

Image credit:  Marcy


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