Arguments tend to gain momentum. What usually starts out as a reasonable, casual discussion, can quickly lead to nit-picking and screaming. In the moment, an argument can make you feel as if you are totally out of control. The key thing to do during these times is to attempt to take control over your actions.
Suggestions for De-Escalating Arguments
If you are able to gain control over your actions and emotions, the person you’re fighting will likely follow suit. To prevent the fight from continuing to become worse, try these tips:
1) Truly listen
We often listen only to think of how we are going to respond. We are coming up with our own ideas in order to rebuttal the other person before they are able to complete their sentence. Something what helps to end an argument is to practice active listening. Make eye contact with the person you are speaking to and don’t assume their motive. Attempt to understand what they are saying to you and the point they are trying to get across.
2) Have an open mind
When you give the other person the chance to get their point across and you are open to having your opinion changed, you are keeping an open mind. Sometimes there is no winner because you are both partially right. If you try to anticipate the outcome, especially the negative ones, you will be mentally preparing yourself for it to end negatively. If you attempt the opposite - thinking about positive outcomes - you will be anticipating better scenarios.
3) Don’t raise your voice
As soon as you raise your voice in an argument, you give the other person control. If you find yourself wanting to yell, take a second to notice your feelings. If you are able to remove yourself from the situation, go to the bathroom and splash some water on your face. Sometimes just taking a moment to yourself can make the difference between a volatile situation and a calm conversation. Try to get your main point across in a calm, collective manner.
4) Stick to the point
While it is easy to get derailed during an argument, you have to stick to the point if you want to get a resolution. It is easy to pull up old memories or scenarios to ‘get back at someone’ while fighting. This sometimes feels necessary in the moment, you will start to lose your partner and the argument. It is common that we cannot focus on the point at hand because our minds naturally think about a lot of different topics. When you notice yourself going off topic, attempt to get back to your main point.
Taking a breath is probably the most common advice when you are getting heated - and there’s a reason for that. When you take a breath and count to 10, it gives you a few seconds to collect yourself and think more clearly. This will give you time to ensure that you are actively listening and giving all of yourself to the conversation. Sometimes just making the effort to become calm is an incredibly powerful tool because it prevents us from saying something that we don’t really mean or can potentially regret later on.
If you are ready to work with a therapist who can work with you on de-escalating arguments, click here.