We’ve all been there – that moment when a fight is about to escalate and you’re at the point where you have to choose – should I step back, or should I lose my shit?
I definitely used to do the latter. As the drama queen that I was, fighting, provoking and yelling used to get me through every fight I ever had with anyone. And I had quite a few. No drama no fun, right?
Thankfully, over the years I have grown into a more rational, balanced person and have come to realize that just because I have something to say, doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to say it.
I know that this isn’t something everyone is able or willing to do. I know people who are even quite proud of their temper and consider themselves “honest and upfront”, but here’s the catch: these two aren’t the same thing. The key is to be diplomatic in your actions and words – meaning that you remain calm and polite but still make yourself very clear. It’s a tricky and often very difficult thing to do, but it pays off – and here’s why.
1. Damage control
Fights are ugly and more often than not, they involve people and relationships we really care about. Before getting into a huge fight (and saying that one sentence that would really trigger it), ask yourself: What are the consequences to this? Is me losing my temper going to solve the problem that started the fight? You all know the 10-seconds-rule, right? Before saying something you might regret, take a moment and really play it in your head. Think about how the other person would respond to it and how it would make them feel. Think about what kind of impact it would have on your relationship, especially long-term. Does it still feel like a good idea?
The point of this is: You can’t change the past, but you do have control over the present and sometimes, 10 seconds is all it takes to make a difference.
2. You’re more likely to win an argument when you’re calm
Arguing has one sole purpose and it is to convince your opponent that you’re right. Like in a real-life court room, all you have to do is present your arguments in the most convincible way possible. Have you ever seen a lawyer lose their shit during a trial? Probably not – and that’s not a coincidence. When you remain calm, you give yourself more time to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. You’re also less vulnerable and exposed to intimidation. Not to mention looking confident, which is already a victory in itself. Being emotional is not a bad thing, but if you constantly let your emotions rule you, you’ll never be able to take control of situations.
3. You’re losing energy
As cliché as this may sound, it’s true. Energy invested in a conflict is wasted energy – simple as that. No one needs bad vibes, right? When negativity builds up and you feel like exploding, steer it in another direction. When I’m mad, I tend to squeeze stuff with all the power that I have. True, sometimes things break (accidentally of course!), but this still helps me get my aggression out on something that’s not a person. At that moment, what your body needs most is an energy outlet. Try some rapid movements like running or jumping. After a while, you’ll notice how your energy has been redirected and you’ll literally be too tired to fight.
Okay, this sounds easy, but where’s the catch? Real life does not come with a step-by-step guidebook and behaving rationally is a hell of a hard job to do. Most of the time, though, what really stops us from stepping back is our ego. For a lot of people, stepping back from an argument means admitting defeat and showing weakness. Arguing for the sole purpose of asserting dominance over the other person won’t really make you look strong either, because standing your ground is not much use when you have no ground to stand on. So, every once in a while, take a deep breath and say “You know what, I do not want to have this fight. Let’s get some coffee instead!”
I know some of this stuff is hard to follow and admittedly, there will be times when you’ll just need to lose your temper in order to function normally – after all, we’re all just human, aren’t we? It’s important to remember that stepping back doesn’t always mean you’re walking away – it’s just means you’re trying to see the bigger picture.
How do you handle fights? Do you have any additional tips on that topic? Let me know in the comments below!