My husband and I usually work through a disagreement before going to sleep, but after a stressful day of travel recently, we were too tired, and the excitement of having a family weekend at Lake Tahoe masked the tension until the next morning. We woke up early and had began airing our grievances when our son knocked gently on the bedroom door to ask if we could keep our voices to a whisper. His request turned out to be a valuable lesson.
The curious thing about whispering is you can’t escalate your voice tone or volume. Whispering paints words with grey monotone. It functions like an emotional clamp. No matter how angry you feel you can’t squeeze the red out of rage!
We reached the other side of our disagreement in record time, and saw the absurdity of the situation. We laughed, muffling our mouths so as not to make too much noise.
By keeping the heat out of our words we had pushed through the content without the usual side trips down emotional lanes of reaction. It was a revelation;
whatever can sidestep normal posturing is a good way to clear the air.
What tricks have you learned for how to diffuse an argument?
I have found that my husband and I always try to go to bed without holding resentments or anger. We find that speaking about issues without anger the other person can hear the words clearly and without getting defensive. To me anger only brings up blocks which lead to more misunderstanding . Thank you for your share.
I think you have a good rule for working though anger. We also make it a point to work through our anger before we go to bed. Then we wake up fresh!
Thanks for the good advice, Eileen. Yes, soft volume and a gentle tone surely can sweeten a disagreement! Makes me chuckle remembering the words by our own Phyllis Diller, “Don’t go to bed MAD! Stay up and FIGHT”!!! Actually open heart listening seems to be my favorite mode of dealing with the many challenges of co-habitation! I mirror back what he has said and ask if I am understanding what he said. Validating it. We let it rest and it usually works it’s way away! Better than good old fashioned sandbagging and silent treatment, a speciality of us ol’ Yankees!
Thanks for sharing Anni. We have found that open hear listening works really well in defusing anger. So much of what we need in tense situations is to be heard. It sounds like you have a really good way of handling what comes up, and hence a wonderful relationship!
so true… I respect your advice.
Since I live alone, (with many “kits”,) there’s no one to argue with, per se. (The kits are all very agreeable!) But, if I do feel angry about something or someone, I try to think it through, often journal, maybe write the person a letter, or try setting up a time to talk. Arguing implies conflict. Conflict often leads to egos taking over and, then, it’s war. Happens between nations, countries, cities, people, families, friends, neighbors and the list goes on.
Be Buddhist. Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a wonderful book called, “Anger” and advises:
1) Take time to calm down; 2) Lower your “voice”—inside and out; 3) Try to see the other person’s point of view; 4) Don’t rush; 5) See that the real victory is peace and harmony.
I like those 5 points Phyll. I had to use them this week, and could have benefitted greatly had I paid more attention to the “don’t rush” part! Thanks for the sharing.