3 Ways to Slow Down Arguments

“I hate it when you talk to me like that!” “Stop bringing up the past!” “You never listen to me!” “Just forget it!”

Sound familiar? Don’t worry, we’ve all heard these statements so you’re not alone. These are typical words to use during arguments.

Arguments like these are high paced conversations that have gone just a little out of hand, and it’s normal. Ultimately, you mean well when you talk to your significant other because all you want them to do is understand you, or agree with you in some cases.

But sometimes the argument goes so far off into another subject that the original point of the argument was forgotten. Believe it or not, this happens often with most couples because a fiery passion consumes us during these more intense conversations. Our emotions get the best of us, we want them to read out minds and we end up get super frustrated. So, how can we slow down these arguments so they don’t get out of hand? Find out below.

Here are the 3 ways to slow down arguments:

(6 minute read)

1. Stop Reloading

Just like a gun needs more ammunition to reload for it’s next fire, our brains are ready to fire back at the other person during an argument. We are emotional creatures, ready at all times to react, but in reality it’s better to respond. Here’s an example:

You’ve just finished telling your side of the argument and now it’s their turn to talk. As they are talking, you can’t help but feel defensive, alone, annoyed, angry, criticized or some other deep feeling. What they’re saying isn’t making sense to you because of two possible reasons: you’re either stuck in your head trying to come up with some sort of rebuttal or there’s so much emotion flowing that it’s very hard to hear them at all. Now we don’t even know what they’re saying!

Many of us do this, and it’s simply not listening because we’re internally reacting, which is normal actually. But, what we are doing is the complete opposite of listening regardless. Let’s be honest, all we want is to be understood and heard right? Why don’t we give the same respect toward the other person as they are speaking? I’m sure they just want to be heard too. Or, maybe it’s the other way around. Perhaps you’re the one always listening and they’re reacting. Either way, this is a powerful skill to practice. Simply repeat what they said so they know you’re listening and not reloading. This is good practice for friends and family too!

A mentor once told me: “Less thinking, more being.” In other words, get out of your mind and into the conversation. Or teach someone this!

2. Honor Those Feelings

How many times have we said or heard “You never listen to me!” or something remotely similar? Plenty, I’m sure. But there’s a secret in telling your significant other things like this in a way that’s easier for them to swallow and makes you look less like a bully during an argument.

It’s called your feelings. Seriously, I’m not kidding.

Your feelings are so important when you want your other half to know something about yourself in any moment. Usually, we tell this special person “You are the reason…!” or “You are a terrible…!” or even “You never treat me…!” When we hear the word you, for some reason our defense is put up because something is being directed to us. But what were to happen if you were to share your feelings without using the word “you” in the beginning of the sentence? Here’s an example:

Rather than telling this person “You never listen to me and you always ignore me and I hate it when you roll your eyes,” you could change it up and tell them “I feel like I’m not being heard when you roll your eyes. I also feel disrespected.” See how powerful the difference is? Sure, it may sound odd because many of us aren’t used to talking like that, but it’s worth the practice. This technique is surely a great way to slow down those arguments. Remember, to the listener, hearing the word “you” isn’t all that refreshing. But once you provide your feelings, how can anyone be mad at you for that? Give it a shot!

3. Focus on the Right

you look good.

Has anyone ever given you a positive compliment during an argument? As often as we hear about what others are doing wrong in a fight, there is so much power in focusing on what they’ve done right.

Research done by marriage and couples experts suggest that for every 1 negative comment we say during an argument, we should give 4 positive comments to balance it out. Sounds crazy right? But imagine the implications if your intimate other was on your back for not putting away the dishes and then follows up with how great you are at scrubbing them, how wonderful you are at keeping the rest of the kitchen clean, how fun it is to cook with you and how much of a great help you are at grocery shopping. Don’t you feel better already? I sure do!

Look, this is going to take some getting used to, and it’s important to let your other half know that you may wanna try some of these new skills you’ve just learned. They may be interested in learning some of them too. You don’t need to try this stuff alone.

If all else fails, just remember to kill em’ with kindness even if you don’t feel up to it. It may be worth it.

Ready For Your Next Argument?

No one is ever really ready to argue, let alone want to argue in the first place. It doesn’t necessarily feel good in the moment, but making up afterwards rewires your brain enough to tell you that it’s worth it. You brain is literally learning your other half is worth the fight.

So if you find yourself stuck in attack or defense mode during an argument, remember these three simple steps and watch those late night fights slow down. Stop reloading and listen, honor their feelings as they may honor yours, and focus on what they are doing right. Remember, you are on their team as they are on yours.

Arguments are meant to understand one another, not push us so far apart that we can no longer stand to be in the same room. Though that may happen. We argue because we want our other half to know how we feel and what we want, and there’s nothing wrong with that. This slowing down takes practice, and it will get easier once you apply these simple steps over and over…and over. It’s a team effort.

Now, slow down and be intentional while arguing and you’ll get your point across.

Originally published at www.kernwellnesscounseling.com


  • Jacob Kountz

    Associate Marriage and Family Therapist

    My name is Jacob Kountz and I’m an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and blogger at KernWellnessCounseling.com. Let me be clear, I struggle at being human. Like, what’s the right thing to do or even say in life’s random situations? Well, because I am a big believer in mental health, honest communication and finding ones' thriving life, I hope to answer these questions for myself along this journey. You are not your illness, you are a human looking to thrive by finding what wellness means to you. I am too. Fill free to reach out: KernWellnessCounseling.com | https://www.facebook.com/jacob.kountz