We've all been there. You and your spouse or partner get into a fight over who knows what, or you and your child/teen start fighting over their messy bedroom. Whatever the case, I hope these pointers can help relax an argument, if not prevent it altogether! For purposes of this post, let's say you're fighting with your partner, but of course the advice is applicable to arguments in general, so you can change the words to fit your situation.
Breathe. I know. Simple, right? I mean, we all do it, all the time. But think about it. You're standing face to face with your partner. He just pushed your last button, your temper and patience have reached their very limits, and you're about to give him a shouting piece of your mind. Stop.
Don't. Say. Anything.
Take a deep breath through your nose, and count 'One'. Exhale. Take another. 'Two'. Take five of these slow, deep, counting breaths. If it helps keep them slow, feel free to add 'one-thousand' to the end of each count, or whatever works for you.
Speak as if there were a small, sleeping baby in the room next to you. You've breathed, you're (slightly) more relaxed, and you've opened your mouth to speak. Now's the time to really break out that imagination of yours and pretend that there's a sleeping baby in the room that you really don't want to wake up. This should keep your voice at a calm, soft range, and, as a bonus, your fighting partner will cool her jets because she won't feel threatened or challenged!
Put your hands in your pockets. It sounds a little strange, but it works. A lot of the energy that comes out when we have fights is conjured up by moving our hands around, pointing fingers, sometimes even raising fists. Putting your hands in your pockets and keeping them there prevents excess energy from going to where it's doing more harm than good.
Speak slowly. This last step might prove a little difficult. When we're angry, we have a tendency to spew out profanities or speeches that really don't get us anywhere, even if what we're saying is true or productive. Remember what your parents used to say about thinking before you speak? Exactly. Talking fast in an argument, even though we often do it without realizing it, can lead to saying something you might regret later.
Keep your voice at a pace you would use if you were talking to the person normally; you can even take it a bit slower, if you want to. Talking slower can also cause you to breathe more, which can take us back to Step One, and can essentially calm us down.
There we go. I hope these four steps have given you some good pointers that can help you end or, hopefully prevent, an argument with a loved one.
Until next time.