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Psychologists Explain How to Stay Calm In An Argument

“Conflict wreaks havoc on our brains. We are groomed by evolution to protect ourselves whenever we sense a threat. In our (world), we don’t fight like a badger with a coyote, or run away like a rabbit from a fox. But our basic impulse to protect ourselves is automatic and unconscious.” – Diane Musho-Hamilton

Emotional intelligence (“E.I.”) is defined as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” A low E.I. generally leads to an inability to stay calm, resulting in more conflict, while a high E.I. leads to less conflict and an ability to stay calm under pressure

Conflict is an inevitable part of life. Even the coolest, calmest, and the most collected person in the room will experience some degree of interpersonal turmoil at some point. In most cases, people don’t have any control over what happens next.

The only aspect of a conflict we can control is how we react. This isn’t to say that overriding this “automatic and unconscious” process is easy; it’s not.

But we can learn to recognize, acknowledge, and manage our negative emotions. We can override, to some degree, this innate physiological response.

We can learn to stay calm during any conflict, including in the midst of an argument.

HERE’S HOW:

1. TAKE DEEP BREATHS

Why: The ability to remain relaxed and centered during a conflict depends on your ability to de-tense the body. Shallow breathing is the body’s innate response when confronted with stress. Quashing this natural response and practicing deep breathing instead helps the body to remain calm.

How: Deeply inhale through the nose before slowly exhaling through the mouth. Smooth, deep breaths will cease the production of two stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol.

2. CONCENTRATE ON YOUR BODY

Why: Concentrating on any physical sensations that arise in a conflict permits you to mindfully change them. When your focus switches to the body, you can feel the tension, shallow breathing, etc. that accompanies stress.

How: When you notice your body beginning to tense, return your posture to a neutral state by relaxing your shoulders and hands. This open position communicates positivity using body language – and often diffuses conflict.

3. ACTIVELY LISTEN

Why: A person will initiate an argument, or some other kind of conflict, if they feel they’re not being heard. Furthermore, it’s impossible to diffuse a conflict without attentive and active listening.

How: When someone is talking, focus all of your attention on what the person says. Ignore any thoughts of constructing a response. Once the person finishes speaking, you have the necessary information to respond intelligently.

4. ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS

Why: Open-ended questions are invaluable in conflict resolution. First, open-ended questions demonstrate that you are attentively listening. Second, these type of questions show respect for the person by allowing them to articulate their thoughts.

How: Learning to ask open-ended questions can be a bit tricky for some people. The easiest way to avoid asking “Yes” or “No” questions is not to use the words “Do,” “Don’t,” “Did,” and “Didn’t” when asking a question. Instead, use the words “What,” “Why,” “When,” and “How.” Try it now. Notice the difference?

5. KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN

Why: The easiest way to escalate conflict is raising your voice. On the flip side, one of the easiest ways to diffuse conflict is lowering your voice. Voice level is also linked to blood pressure. When BP reaches a certain point, it becomes more difficult to understand what’s being communicated.

How: The first step is to diffuse the initial anger of the other person. You can’t do this by raising your voice. On the other hand, you can quickly impart a sense of calm by making the conscious decision to lower your voice.

6. AGREE TO DISAGREE

Why: Not every conflict will produce amicable or mutually agreeable results. However, you can avoid deepening the conflict by politely disengaging from the conversation.

How: One law of interpersonal conflict is that it takes two participants. Separating yourself from an argument is appropriate under one of two circumstances: (1) the person becomes increasingly hostile, or (2) the conversation, despite your best efforts, is not going anywhere.

In closing, unless you happen to be a self-awareness guru, you will become angry in an argument at some point. Human beings are emotional creatures – and this ability to feel can be used to either our advantage or our detriment. It’s also important to forgive yourself if you should act in an unbecoming manner. We all do – and anyone who says otherwise is either a fool, a liar, or both.

By following one or more of the six tips given, you will assuredly feel more confident in any conflict. As a result, you’ll use your emotions and self-regulation to your benefit. Doing so, you will gain the trust and confidence of people in your good and even temperament.

To our non-argumentative better selves!

REFERENCES:
HTTP://WWW.NOTEY.COM/@HUBSPOTMKTGBLOG_UNOFFICIAL/EXTERNAL/8558555/HOW-TO-CALM-YOUR-BRAIN-DURING-CONFLICT-INFOGRAPHIC.HTML?UTM_CONTENT=BUFFER8E58E&UTM_MEDIUM=SOCIAL&UTM_SOURCE=PINTEREST.COM&UTM_CAMPAIGN=BUFFER
HTTPS://HBR.ORG/2015/12/CALMING-YOUR-BRAIN-DURING-CONFLICT
HTTPS://WWW.PINTEREST.COM/PIN/324751823116339269/
HTTPS://WWW.PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.COM/BASICS/EMOTIONAL-INTELLIGENCE

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Yelling, threatening parents harm teens’ mental health

By Allison Bond      NEW YORK      Tue Dec 10, 2013

(Reuters Health) – Threatening or screaming at teenagers may put them at higher risk for depression and disruptive behaviors such as rule-breaking, a new study suggests.

“The take home point is that the verbal behaviors matter,” Annette Mahoney, who worked on the study, said. She’s a professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

“It can be easy to overlook that, but our study shows that the verbal hostility is really relevant, particularly for mothers who scream and hit, and for fathers who do either one,” Mahoney told Reuters Health.

All of the kids in her study had been referred to a community clinic due to mental health or behavioral problems.

Their mothers had to be both verbally and physically abusive to increase the kids’ risk for depression and behavior issues. But either kind of behavior alone from a father was sufficient to produce lasting ill effects.

The researchers realize that parents can be trapped in a vicious cycle.

Verbal abuse “has a cyclical nature to it,” said Mahoney. Kids with behavioral or mental health problems can be tough to handle, she said.

Not surprisingly, her team found, adolescents whose parents were also physically violent toward them – hitting, choking, or threatening them with a gun or knife – had an even higher risk for mental illness and behavioral problems.

“Parental verbal aggression towards adolescents is just as – if not more – destructive than severe physical aggression, particularly in families seeking mental health services,” said Michelle Leroy, also of Bowling Green State University who led the research.

For the study, which was published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, 239 troubled adolescents between the ages of 11 and 18 filled out surveys that asked if they were hit, called names, or subjected to other forms of physical or verbal violence over the past year.

Parents of the youths also participated, reporting their behaviors in the same time frame.


Fifty-one percent of the adolescents said they’d experienced serious physical or verbal aggression, or both, from one or two parents.

Having a mother who both screamed and hit increased kids’ risk for mental health problems (such as anxiety, depression, and rule-breaking behaviors) to an even greater extent than having a mother who was aggressive in only one way.

In other words, the effect of a mother’s verbal hostility may be worsened if she also hits her child, Mahoney said. That may be because teens likely feel more traumatized and threatened when physical violence is a real possibility.

In contrast, screaming by mothers who had not previously escalated to serious physical aggression did not appear to increase the risk of psychological problems among teens getting counseling in this study, Mahoney told Reuters Health.

On the other hand, fathers who were verbally abusive affected the adolescents’ mental health, regardless of whether the threats were accompanied by physical violence.

The study’s results may indicate that doctors should be on the lookout for verbal aggression at home, particularly in families with an adolescent who may be having mental health or behavioral problems, the researchers say.

Many doctors make it a habit to ask their patients about acts of physical abuse. They should also ask about verbal violence, Mahoney’s team adds.

“You have to break the cycle; someone has to crack it open. It doesn’t excuse the parents’ behavior, but (doctors and therapists) have to not be judgmental (and) get the facts out.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/J32Z74, Child Abuse & Neglect, online November 17, 2013              Reuters