Have you ever been on your way to take the dog out, or wash the dishes, and then someone asks you to do it, and it pisses you off to no end? Now you don’t want to do the chore, and you want to tell off the loved one telling you to do the chore. These, and millions of other meaningless things, can start a fight. That’s not to say people aren’t fighting about important things too. But, fights come in all sizes and shapes, and more often than not, it is a knee-jerk reaction that sets them in motion.

One of the most stressful things in life is having conflicts and arguments with people. It causes anxiety and puts a burden on the relationship. When we are confined or have other stressors on the relationship, it’s even worse. However, there are ways to stop the fight before it even starts. Being able to de-escalate a situation, or hit pause on yourself, are valuable skills. These are also skills that help you in every area of life but are particularly important for families. I come from a dysfunctional family and we played the blame game and tempers were heated all the time. In adulthood, I quickly realized I needed some new tools for conflict resolution.

Knowing ways to stop conflict will help in these tense times, and in all times. These are my go-to conflict avoidance or resolution suggestions..

Tips to stop the conflict

Remember, when someone starts to get upset, they’re usually coming from a place where they feel they aren’t being heard. That brings us to our first strategy for how to stop conflict.

Listen to what’s being said to you

Most people want to be heard and understood. Take the time to listen to what they are saying. Then process it and respond when you have something productive to say. This is not the time for pointing fingers or using the blame or shame game. It won’t get you the result you want.

Phrase that diffuse rather than escalate

When situations are beginning to escalate, use phrases like, “Yes, I hear you…,” and, “You may be right, let’s see what happens…” These will help the other person feel respected and know you’re open to another possibility. You want to be in the business of diffusing situations, not making them worse.

Stay calm, don’t allow your temper to take over

For the love of God, don’t lose your temper. Once one person goes off the deep end, the natural response is to escalate. Do your best to stay calm and stop conflict from escalating. If you feel that heat rise, step outside the room or home immediately. Pause. Pause again. Call someone if you have to. Ask yourself, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy for the next few weeks or months?

Apologize to soothe another person’s pain

If someone is telling you that you’ve done something that offends them or hurts their feelings, you should apologize. Maybe you didn’t mean to hurt them, but that’s not the point. We’re trying to get along with other people here. This is not the time to spend hours on talking points to defend your actions. Say sorry and stop the pain.

Agree to disagree

If you find yourself in a situation where tempers are escalating and it’s getting out-of-control, ask for a truce. We’re in a time of war right now. It’s better if it’s us against them. You may not be having an easy time with someone in the home or at work, but the virus enemy outside is the bigger problem. Find a way to raise the white flag and agree to disagree.

These are just a few tips on a big subject but give them a try and see how they work for you! Want more? Check out my book 100 Tips For Growing Up.

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Lindsey Glass

Lindsey Glass is the co-founder of Reach Out Recovery. Her 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World Of Recovery, has helped to lift the stigma from addiction and recovery and is used in recovery programs nationwide to show what life is like on the other side of addiction. Lindsey's teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, was distributed to PBS stations nationwide by American Public Television in 2014-15. Lindsey has written dozens of popular articles on recovery. She is a recovery advocate and frequent keynote speaker. Lindsey is the author of 100 Tips for Growing Up, My 20 Years of Recovery, 2019. Before focusing on recovery, Lindsey was a TV and screenwriter. She has worked in publishing, web development, and marketing.

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