One of the best lessons we can learn in life is to master how to remain calm.
In the heat of an argument it can be challenging to stay calm, but with these seven simple steps you’ll be prepared to keep a cool head in the midst of any discussion.
“Conflict wreaks havoc on our brains. We are groomed by evolution to protect ourselves whenever we sense a threat. In our (world), we don’t fight like a badger with a coyote, or run away like a rabbit from a fox. But our basic impulse to protect ourselves is automatic and unconscious.” ~ Diane Musho-Hamilton
Experiencing some form of conflict is often a given while living life. Even the calmest and most collected people will at certain points in their lives experience some degree of interpersonal turmoil.
The main aspects of a conflict that we can control are how we choose to communicate and how we choose to respond. This isn’t to say that overriding this “automatic and unconscious” process is easy; but when striving to maintain relationships, and to maintain our own inner peace, it’s definitely worth it.
As humans we are able to recognize, acknowledge, accept, guide and manage all of our internal feelings, and can turn an unproductive defensive reaction into a beautifully calm and productive response.
When facing confrontation, the body tends to tense up. The results of this tension are we start to experience shallow breathing and a racing heart. One of the best ways to stay calm during an argument is to relax your body and mind through deep breathing. Deeply inhale through your nose, counting to three, and then slowly exhale through your mouth, also counting to three.
Focus on taking deep breaths to stop the production of both adrenaline and cortisol in your body and to calm your nerves. Deep breathing is associated with relaxation in the body, and by consciously choosing to control your deep breathing, your body will naturally release the feelings associated with relaxation and stress-relief.
It’s often not about what we say, but how we’re saying it that either leads to peaceful discussions or heated arguments. It was Albert Mehrabian who came up with the rule determining that successful communication is made up of three parts: the words you use, your tone of voice and your body language. Whatever the content is of the things we’re saying, it’s our tone of voice that communicates what we’re feeling when we say them. The words “I love you” can be be a beautifully loving statement when spoken from the heart, or it can be a statement that provokes bitterness or resentment when used with an angry tone to justify unhealthy behavior.
Voice levels plays a key role in whether a conversation turns into an argument or is able to remain as a healthy discussion. One of the best ways to diffuse conflict is to simply lower your voice. People often raise their voice when they feel strongly about something or when they feel they’re personality or behavior is being attacked, but yelling does not help either person’s case. Lowering your voice during an argument can help calm both people down. By also focusing on the heart while speaking, and maintaining attention on the feeling of love, the voice will communicate this love, and it will diffuse a large amount of resistance in the other person.
The person you’re speaking with may get the wrong impression and become defensive if you exhibit aggressive body language. You could come off as a potential emotional threat if you aren’t mindful of your body language and happen to appear as aggressive, even if you don’t mean to.
Crossing your arms, pursing your lips, and slouching give the average person an angry appearance, even if they aren’t. Instead, stand straight up, place your arms in a neutral position, and keep your face relaxed, as this form of body language is conducive of healthy communication.
The biggest factor in having a healthy relationship is “E. I.”: Emotional intelligence, and it’ also a key in staying calm. Emotional intelligence is defined as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” A low E.I. generally leads to an inability to stay calm, resulting in more conflict, while a high E.I. leads to less conflict and an ability to stay calm under pressure.
Consciously identify your feelings and begin to understand the experiences and underlying needs behind them. By understanding what your feelings and needs are, you can better figure out how to meet those needs, which will resolve possible feelings of frustration or anger.
People often initiate an argument when they feel like they aren’t being heard. If another person approaches you ready to fight, take the time to listen to what they have to say, before you engage in conflict. Once they finish speaking, respond calmly instead of irrationally.
Making a joke may seem silly during a discussion or even an argument, but as long as the context is okay and it is not making fun of the other person, a joke can be a sign of lightheartedness and the desire to cause happy feelings of laughter in the other. Smiling and laughing also releases feel-good chemicals in the brain, leading to reduced tension. Consider who you are arguing with before you introduce something funny. Your goal isn’t to make anyone more upset. Rather, it’s to calm down a tense situation.
Open-ended questions aren’t usually present in an argument, as they imply respect for the other person and an intent to listen and to understand: two important actions that promote empathy. Accusations and “yes or no” questions can often lead to arguing, but asking open-ended questions shows a desire and an interest to reach an agreement with the other, without forcing them, but through understanding.
Open-ended questions ask for the other to share their thoughts and opinion, rather than a yes or a no. Two examples of open-ended questions would be; “I’m wondering, what is your opinion on (abc)?” or “How does that make you feel?”
By no means does everyone need to agree on everything, it’s simply not possible because everyone has had a unique life experience and their own personal education. As we’ve all learned different things, we will naturally form different opinions.
If during a discussion you’ve both made your cases and you’re sticking to your own opinions, know when to call a truce in order to maintain your relationship in a positive way. If the conversation isn’t going anywhere, say, “Let’s agree to disagree” with a smile and then by politely disengaging from the conversation or changing the topic.
For many people in our lives, including loved ones, family, and significant others, we value the person more than we value proving our point or being “right.” It’s okay to disagree as long as both people can meet their own needs and stay respectful and loving of each other.
Repost from Understanding compassion
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