Death & Life is in the Power of your Tongue
Ways to stay calm when provoked by argument
Disagreements and arguments are never easy to handle especially when you feel passionate about the topic at hand. Learning how to argue in a respectful and calm fashion can save you a lot of anxiety. Certainly both people involved in any argument are going to be believing that their view is the correct position to take. If you can control your emotions during an argument you have a higher chance that your opinion will be heard and perhaps even appreciated. Just because your partner in an argument does not fight fairly, does not give you the liberty or justification for acting in an inappropriate fashion. You should avoid making the argument personal at all costs. Doing this will mean that your point of view means more to you then just being right. Remember that a the personal attack that might make you feel good now has the ability to do a permanent amount of damage to the longevity of the relationship.
Keeping yourself calm and composed during an argument is not as difficult as some people think it is. Furthermore if you behave respectfully the other person might follow your lead and the tension in the discussion might be able to be diffused. Always remember to think before you speak. Consider the ramifications of what you are saying and the potential long-term impact on the relationship. Also try to anticipate what the other person might feel after you have made your point. Taking time to think and breathe during the discussion will also keep emotions from getting out of control. When you are arguing, visualize the other person appreciating your point of view. This will help you to take more time in between statements, thereby limiting the fight response. It is always advisable to control the tempo and infarction in your voice. This will give each word that you speak the maximum available impact. It will also allow the other person to take time to listen instead of thinking ahead.
More will be accomplished if you practice active listening skills. It can be difficult to listen when you do not agree with the opposite position, however doing so can actually help the credibility of your position. If you are truly listening you can create a more powerful rebuttal when you're speaking later in the conversation. If you actively listen to the other person, they will be more likely to extend you the same courtesy when they are supposed to be listening to you. If you allow someone complete expression of their emotions it is often more simple to find a resolution to the conflict. Remember to not take the disagreement personally. Many individuals say things that they don't necessarily mean when in the middle of an argument.
Sometimes the best approach is to agree to disagree. There are times when resolution cannot be reached and it is acceptable to not agree on every issue. You cannot convince an irrational person of any thing when they are not thinking about the big picture. Sometimes it is necessary to walk away from the communication until the better opportunity presents itself.
The Acid Tongue
The acid tongue and adrenaline rush that comes along with an argument is sometimes hard to avoid.
When provoked by an argument it can be difficult to maintain your composure and not participate. Although it may be difficult, there are ways to stay calm.
One of the most important things to remember is to stay focussed, do not let your mind get into the turmoil of the oncoming argument directed your way. Staying focussed on the fact that if you participate, then things will be twice as bad in the end. Not only do you have one person throwing words around like darts but once you step in and add your contribution this will intensify the problem.
Taking a deep breath does help. Inhale and breathe out slowly, this is an automatic way to calm your own nerves that are getting stirred up inside you. Repeat the breathing at minimum three times. This will calm you to an extent if you are surrounded with the chaos of someone provoking an argument.
Taking a walk can definitely help keep you calm. Excusing yourself from the situation and taking a walk, clears the mind and keeps you grounded.
Look at things from a different point of view. When someone is provoking an argument it is also easy to become defensive and want to stand up for yourself. Instead of reacting to a negative emotion, take a look at the person who is arguing with you and realize, this is not your own behaviour. You do not have to lower yourself to the level they are in.
Most arguments are caused by some kind of fear. As they are throwing their words at you ask yourself, what does this person fear? Let them say what they want or think they have to say, and analyze the situation as they are acting in an unacceptable manner. By focussing on what is causing their fear in order to make them behave this way, this keeps your own thoughts from getting tangled up in the emotions the arguer is causing within you.
If the person provoking the argument in persistent and there is no easy way to excuse yourself from the situation. Do not react and remember in most cases, when you do not feed the fire the fire eventually burns out. Let them carry on, but in your own mind tell yourself you refuse to participate in this and remind yourself this will soon burn out.
Even though you may be in the presence of someone who is provoking the argument does not mean you have to really be there. By saying this I mean, picture something else in your mind that brings you joy as the person is ranting and raving. Separate yourself emotionally and do not let the feelings start to boil. As soon as you feel the adrenaline taking over, just push your mind back to the thoughts that make you happy.
Action causes reaction. When there is no action there is no reaction. It is best to just let the person vent out whatever they feel the need to argue about and keep yourself separated mentally as best as possible.
Everything eventually comes to pass.
Just stay calm
Some people love to argue. I knew a married couple like that once; it seemed as if their entire relationship consisted of one sniping at the other, who would then respond in kind. To a casual observer it seemed as if they must really hate each other. I wondered why they stayed married.
Eventually the husband passed away. The wife was devastated. Her normal grieving pattern turned into severe depression and she herself died within a year. She really loved him after all, although their way of relating was through constant argument.
Most of us would hate that type of relationship. We are taught from childhood to be polite, kind, thoughtful, and respectful when dealing with others, especially those whom you supposed to love. However, often it's a family member who feels secure enough in the relationship to try to start an argument.
You'll be aware when the bait is tossed your way. It may be a statement with which you're bound to disagree, an implied or direct criticism of something you've said or done, or a disparaging comment about you, or one of your friends or family. Argumentative people usually know how to push the sensitive buttons of people around them.
Here are a few ways to stay calm when provoked:
- Look the offender in the eye, state simply, "I'm sorry you feel that way." Resume what you were doing. If the barbs keep coming, go on to the next suggestion.
- Walk away. It takes two to have an argument. Do something you enjoy. Call a friend, grab a book, turn on the TV, read your e-mail. There are better ways to spend your time than listening to a quarrelsome individual.
- Consider the physical damage your would-be adversary is doing to himself. Look at him closely, the tightly-drawn face, the clenched fists, the white knuckles. His blood pressure is probably sky-high. Tsk! Tsk! If he keeps this type of behaviour up, he won't last long. Refuse to contribute to his early demise. Leave and follow suggestion # 2.
- State calmly and plainly that you consider the remark to be inane, rude, offensive, in poor taste, unmerited, unacceptable, ill-mannered, impudent and/or churlish (choose appropriate adjectives or use them all), and that you will not dignify it with a reply. If he cares to rephrase his thought later and put it in more acceptable terms, you'll give it some consideration. Leave and follow suggestion #2.
- Ask him to put his concerns in writing. You have a headache and you require absolute silence.
- If all else fails, leave the scene completely. It you're not at home, go there. Otherwise, go out for coffee, visit a friend, go shopping or take in a movie.
While you're away, reflect on possible causes of this argumentative behaviour. Has your opponent had a spate of bad luck recently? Are there medical issues to consider? Why are they deliberately trying to provoke an argument? Are they trying to distance themselves from you, either temporarily or permanently?
If this is normal behaviour, then you have other choices to consider. If things remain as they are , how much will you be required to be in this person's company in the future? Can you live with present behaviour? If not, what are your options?
Sometimes it's just thoughtlessness, insensitivity or impulsiveness which lead to argumentative remarks. In these cases a heart-to-heart discussion can do the trick, if there is underlying respect and amity between the two people involved. More severe cases may need professional counselling or an anger management course.
If arguments escalate to physical violence, or if the argumentative comments become increasingly critical or cruel and the victim's psychological health becomes adversely affected, it's time to end the association.
It's a fallacy that physical abuse is the most harmful element in any dysfunctional relationship. Physical scars heal in time. Emotional wounds can last a lifetime. Argumentative individuals are often very skilled at administering emotional wounds, and there are no visible scars to give them away.
A Couple's Guide to Fighting
Many people subscribe to the thinking that fighting is a normal part of any relationship. The existence of sayings that describe different types of "normal fighting" is proof in itself that we accept fighting as a part of life. Sibling rivalry, lover's quarrels and family disputes are all the result of basic human nature. Assuming this to be true, you might say to yourself, "OK that may be true but where do I draw the line between normal fighting and irreconcilable differences?"
What is the difference between a fight and an argument? Can people really agree to disagree? In a perfect world maybe. For most people -- couples in particular -- agreeing to disagree can sometimes be a diplomatic way of describing a stand off.
There is hope though. By trying a few of the following basic strategies, you can deal with differences, hurt feelings and other common problems that often lead to fights. The first main ingredient for taking a new approach to old problems is agreeing to do so and agreeing on how to do so.
If you are in a relationship with a person you love, you aren't ready to throw in the towel and you want to try something different, this advice is meant for you.
If you are involved in an abusive relationship or have simply had enough you probably need more than some basic advice.
I should say before I go much further that I am not a trained professional. I have worked as an Employment Counselor for the past 12 years and have a basic understanding of counseling principles. I rely to some extent on my personal experience as a 10 year veteran of marriage. I am also the kind of person who people have always liked to spill their guts to especially in times of trouble. I suppose over the years I have learned more by listening than talking. In my opinion, these days, the art of skillful listening is very underrated.
The Need to Know
If we lived in a world the Beatles used to describe where "all you need is love," we'd all be easier to get along with. In the real world we live in things are slightly more complicated. Spouses need ongoing reassurance that their needs are important and going to be met. Never mind the 80s way of thinking that human beings weren't necessarily meant to be together in interdependent, relationships and all that matters is me. It hasn't worked and we all know it.
Communication Is Always the Key
Communication is the key to understanding your spouse, partner, or significant other and to being understood. The first step to effective communication is listening. Letting someone know that you have heard what they said is vital. Usually after a fight people tend to be able to sort the issues out more clearly. That is because when we are experiencing anger, fear, or sadness, that's all we can handle at the time.
We don't hear what the other person has said. Have you ever had an argument with someone and then discussed it at a different time only to discover that neither of you can remember what it was you were fighting about? It is likely though that you can remember whether you were sad, angry or hurt.
It is difficult for most of us to separate our thoughts from our emotions especially when we are upset. Making that separation is a very important thing to be able to do. Usually both spouses have valid points and when you are in it together you always have to be prepared to compromise.
A general rule that's good to use is talk only when you are both ready to listen. At the point that a discussion becomes heated, it is time to stop. Even 15 minutes of silence can do wonders. If both parties agree on this rule ahead of time, it is much easier to follow.
No Take Backs
If you sometimes say hurtful things and regret saying them later, you may be guilty of throwing the baby out with the bath water. This is to say that there is a huge difference between saying, "I hate you because of the stupid things you do" and "I'm really frustrated with some of the things you do. It makes me feel...." This last statement gets the message across and isn't something you have to apologize for later.
Cooling Off Time
Try a cooling off time if arguments get heated. In my own experience, there have been so many times that if my husband had left me alone for a few minutes to collect myself, our arguments would have been toned down a few decibels.
Breaking Old Habits
It can be difficult to put some of these strategies into play because when we are upset or feeling vulnerable we sometimes protect ourselves with the same defense mechanism over and over again until it just becomes habit. People tend to act the same or say the same things every time they argue. How many times have you heard one spouse say to an other, "why do you always...."
An other aspect of difficulty in trying a new approach has to do with the fact that arguing is irrational and deciding to not participate in a potential argument the usual way is rational and most times, effective. Habits, especially old ones, are hard to break.
When Anger Hurts Your Relationship: 10 Simple Solutions for Couples Who Fight
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