Dealing With Arguments – Arguments are an inevitable fact of life. No matter how easy going or willing to compromise you are, there are going to be times in your life when tensions rise, and emotions get heated. Unfortunately, when strong emotions are involved, hurtful things tend to be said and irrational decisions are often made. The expert counsellors at Horizon Plymouth are experienced when it comes to helping individuals through the difficult seasons and struggles in their lives, but we also can provide tips and advice for handling the difficult moments in your life, such as difficult arguments. Learning how to deal with arguments both in the moment and after the fact can help you to avoid hurtful moments and foster relationships that are productive and healthy.
Tips for defusing arguments in the moment
When you are feeling strong negative emotions such as anger, fear, outrage, and many other emotions associated with arguments, the emotional part of your brain—the amygdala—takes over from the rational part of your brain. This means that you are not as equipped to make sound judgements and handle what you say thoughtfully. The key to dealing with arguments in the moment lies in finding ways to dial down this emotional reaction so that the logical part of your brain remains calm and in control. This might look like deep breathing or stepping back for a few seconds to collect yourself. Once you are calmer, you will be better equipped to employ some of the following strategies to work towards a peaceful resolution.
- Listen to understand: An age-old trap of arguments is listening to the other person while already formulating your rebuttal in your head, which can prevent understanding of the true issues at hand. Instead, truly focus on what the other person is saying, and as questions to deeply understand what their complaint is so that you can address it in a respectful manner.
- Don’t deflect blame: Becoming defensive is an automatic reaction, but it is an unhelpful one that perpetuates arguments when someone has an issue with something that you said or did. Be willing to admit fault and apologise when you are in the wrong, which will help to facilitate productive conversation and problem-solving.
- Focus on the issue at hand: Bringing up past complaints within the current argument immediately turns the conversation into a warzone where dirty laundry can be aired. It is now a confrontation, with deliberate attacks on the opposite party. At this point, the conversation is no longer productive or helpful, so try to focus on keeping the conversation focused on the issue at hand.
Tips for dealing with arguments after the fact
But what do you do when the effects of a particularly nasty argument linger in your mind long after the confrontation has concluded? Allowing that anger to fester can cause it to build up into resentment, which can have negative effects on your mental health. If this is happening, try some of these options for dealing with those emotions:
- Don’t let it fester: If something is still deeply bothering you 24 hours after an argument, speak up to the other person, politely asking them if you can revisit the issue, as you weren’t happy with the conclusion.
- Find the underlying issue: If you feel that your issues were not resolved initially, spend some time thinking about what the true root of the problem is, and start by attempting to address only that one thing.
- Healthy coping: Practicing strategies such as meditation, exercise, or self-expression can help you to move past un-resolvable issues in a healthy way.
If you or someone you know could benefit from speaking with a qualified counsellor about this topic, don’t hesitate! Reach out to Horizon Plymouth today to schedule your initial consultation.