In this podcast (episode #478) and blog, I talk about ways to stop fights before they begin.
Relationships can be hard, whether you are talking about friends, romantic partners, family, or colleagues. Fights and arguments are often inevitable, but that does not mean that there are steps we can take to make our relationships stronger and prevent fights and arguments before they begin.
Below are several tips to help you learn how to practice this in your everyday relationships:
- Approach the conflicts with curiosity. Ask yourself, "What's behind this anger/frustration/bitterness?” Become an emotions detective: what are your thoughts, feelings and behaviors trying to tell you?
- Change the way you see conflict. View the conflict as "us against the problem”, not "me versus you.” Think about what the actual issue is and focus on resolving it.
- Practice the 10 second pause rule. Before saying anything, pause and breathe for 10 seconds. This will give your mind, brain and body time to calm down, and can help de-escalate a tense situation.
- Know when to ask for some space. Remember that it's okay to walk away to calm down and reset. You don't need to solve everything immediately, but don’t use this as a way to escape uncomfortable situations. Always think about the “why” behind what you choose to do.
- Watch what you say. Words are powerful, and they can easily kindle the fire of an argument till it is burning out of control. Try to watch how you respond to a situation, and use statements like “I understand”, "let me think about that”, or "you may be right" instead of accusations like “you always do this!”, “you never listen”, or “of course you are responding this way!”
- Make argument autopsies a habit. After an argument, it is always important to analyze why things ended up the way they did. You cannot fix or improve something if you do not know why it “broke” in the first place! Once you are calm, think about how you can learn from the situation and how you can improve your communication and relationship; don’t just “move on” or the same thing can happen again. Use this “autopsy” process as a preventative measure; it is a way to understand how to prevent this kind of argument in the future. It may be helpful to discuss with the other person what can be done in the future to prevent or manage a re-occurrence of the same argument, or to discuss the situation with someone you trust like a close friend or therapist.
For more on stopping fights before they begin, listen to my podcast (episode #478). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
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0:32 Why it is important to try to prevent arguments before they begin
1:26, 5:30 How to approach conflicts with curiosity
7:47 How to change the way you see the conflict
9:05, 12:00, 15:00 How words can stop or start an argument
10:03 Why you should practice the 10 second pause before responding to conflict
11:00 Walking away is not always a bad thing!
This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.