By: Ryan Pettigrew
Every relationship, including those with family and friends, will have arguments. There’s no possible way to avoid arguments because even completely avoiding confrontation only leads to building hostility that’ll be released in unhealthy ways. The key is to argue in a healthy way, to get your point across, fix the problem and move on. I last wrote about assertiveness which aids in that, so now it’s time to discuss keeping quiet until your anger has gone.
I’m sure you all have noticed that when you’re mad you say and do things that you later regret. This is because anger causes biological changes in our bodies that is meant to cause us to act on instinct: fight or flight. During the caveman days, survival meant acting quick and analyzing potential options would allow you to get eaten by a Saber Tooth Tiger but in modern times, such a reaction isn’t reasonable. We aren’t usually in situations where fight or flight is appropriate and more often than not, thinking helps us do the smarter thing.
Disagreements can get heated, especially with loved ones, so it’s vital to take a step back to calm down before talking about the issue because no one wants to say, or do, something they’ll regret to someone they care about. That means that both parties to the relationship must learn calm down before speaking and the non-angry person needs to give the angry person space to calm down. It’s natural to want to continue arguing until you win but people need to force themselves to end the discussion when anger comes into play and this is a learned skill. That also means that both parties need to know that the calm down period doesn’t mean that the other person no longer cares or is going to leave. In fact, if someone cares enough for you that they can stop themselves when angry and separate themselves from the conversation, that person is showing that they are in it for the long haul.