Engaging in arguments is an inevitable aspect of life, but they don't always have to be negative. Whether they arise between a parent and child, partners, or friends, heated discussions can be proactive opportunities to express feelings and collaboratively seek solutions to mutual problems.
However, if conflicts frequently escalate into shouting matches, it's a clear indication that you're missing out on the potential benefits. When anger takes over, it's crucial to work on regaining control over your emotions and adopting a calmer communication style. This is especially true in mediation type settings.
To assist you in this endeavor, we have curated a list of our top tips to help you maintain composure during arguments.
Understanding that conflict originates in the brain and often stems from deep-rooted causes empowers you to take charge of your emotional responses. Anger is an instinctive reaction triggered when perceiving a threat, fueling an inclination towards aggressive actions such as shouting, door slamming, or impulsive behavior. However, it's essential to recognize that these are unconscious, biological responses and do not define your true self.
By cultivating self-awareness and identifying moments of anger, you can learn to calm yourself down. This doesn't mean ignoring the underlying issues but rather gaining control over the aggressive impulses that tend to dominate during heated exchanges.
As you become more attuned to your emotions during arguments, develop a personal anger scale ranging from 0 (a state of calm) to 10 (an emotional eruption). During a heated exchange, remain aware of your scale: irritation might register as a 1, annoyance as a 2, and genuine anger as a 3. Once you reach a 3 on your scale, resist the temptation to continue the conversation. As annoyance transitions into anger, it's crucial to walk away.
If you prolong the argument, allowing your scale to rise to 4 or 5, it becomes increasingly challenging to disengage. This slippery slope propels you towards reaching the peak of 10.
To ensure you can effectively disengage, communicate with those close to you about your new approach. Let them know that if you choose to leave, they should respect your space until you return to continue the discussion, ideally after lowering your emotional scale back to 0 or 1. Approaching conversations in this way during mediation sessions can really contribute to constructive discussions that are not halted by hurt feelings.
Breathing techniques have long been recognized for their ability to reduce stress, enhance mindfulness, and promote clear thinking—qualities that are invaluable during arguments. When anger and stress surge, your breathing tends to become rapid, and your heart rate increases. Conversely, slow, deep breathing is associated with feelings of happiness and contentment. By emulating this deliberate breathing pattern, you can activate your vagus nerve, triggering your rest and relaxation mode rather than the fight or flight response.
When you sense yourself escalating on the anger scale, take a moment to focus on your breath. Though it may seem simple, consciously slowing down your breathing can help you step out of the intensity of the moment, lower your heart rate, and create mental space to gather your thoughts.
Consider trying the SKY breathing practice, a technique proven to effectively reduce stress, the next time you feel anger rising. It can guide your body into a state of relaxation and calm.
As mentioned earlier, anger is a natural response that often manifests as instinctive aggression, such as shouting. However, raising your voice only exacerbates the argument, leading to adverse outcomes.
Shouting increases the stress levels of the person you're directing your anger towards. They perceive it as a threat and respond with aggression, further escalating the conflict. In such heated moments, the chances of finding a meaningful resolution diminish significantly.
During your next argument, make a conscious effort to avoid raising your voice. If you feel the urge to shout, take a break and remove yourself from the situation until you regain control of your emotions. Return to the conversation when you can communicate in a calm and composed manner.
Maintaining composure during an argument is undoubtedly challenging. If you're facing difficulties in effectively communicating with someone in your life—whether a loved one, a friend, or a business partner—it may be worthwhile to explore the option of mediation. Engaging a professional mediator, like ours at Solutions & Resolutions, can provide a proven and effective method of keeping the conversation under control and defusing potential outbursts of anger.