How to De-escalate a Fight
Amanda P. Johnson, MS, LAMFT • [email protected]
www.relatecounseling.com • @relatecounsel
All couples fight. This is normal – you are two individuals with different preferences and opinions. The key is knowing how to de-escalate your argument with some conflict resolution skills. This way you can return to being connected with your partner (or child, friend, co-worker) quicker and with less damage. Here are some key steps in conflict resolution:
Step 1: Knowing you are “flooded” is half the battle.
Recognize you’re overwhelmed and signal this to your partner. Have a code word, hand signal, or phrase to let your partner know you’re flooded. “You’re important to me and I want this fight to go well. Can we slow down so we can be okay?” works great.
Flooded: when strong emotions take over (e.g., anger, sadness/hurt, numbness)
Step 2: Separate, breathe, and take a time out.
Spend several minutes focused on calming down. Our nervous system tends to be a slowpoke when it comes to calming down – so take more time than you need. Do things that calm and soothe: read, walk, breathe, play with your dog.
Step 3: Revisit the argument with softness.
When feeling calm, start with checking in with your partner to see if they are okay to help reconnect. Then start with sharing your feelings, not accusations towards your partner. Sharing feelings helps to create more empathy and understanding in the relationship.
All three steps are essential conflict-resolution skills for your relationship to help de-escalate arguments. For difficult topics, they may need to be repeated several times. That is okay! Always keep in mind you and your partner are a team against the problem, not you and your partner against each other.
If it feels like you are struggling with the connection or communication in your relationship the therapists a Relate Counseling specialize in helping couples improve their connection and communication. Call 404.267.1517, connect with us on Instagram: @relatecounselingatl.