TAKE AN ADULT TIMEOUT.
About 30 years ago I attended an on-site traffic school (yes, before you could do this on-line). Most of us had been ticketed for speeding. The instructor introduced himself and talked about boring statistics and useless facts so most of us were half asleep. Right before the break he said, “Would you like to know how to NEVER get another speeding ticket?” Clearly he got our attention. He took his time and said, “Never go faster than the posted speed limit”.
He now had a room full of disappointed students. We were all looking for inside information. No one was prepared when he simply said, “Don’t speed”. We wanted something that helped us get away with speeding. We wanted a trick. We wanted an easy fix. Instead he offered us a conventional sure-fire way of not spending the next Saturday in his classroom.
Are you shaking your head right now? Do you feel like you were misled? Let me assure you that sometimes the simplest solution is actually the best solution. I have applied this lesson often over the years. There is an easy way to do things and there is a hard way to do things.
Back to the subject of the 1 thing we can do to avoid an argument. Most conversations don’t start out as arguments. Arguments tend to happen when people say things too quickly. Arguments tend to escalate when we jump the gun, listen with half an ear, or defend behavior we shouldn’t defend.
Time and space gives us perspective so we can silently decide what we want to say. Both allow us time to think more clearly as to what our end game will be. The various possibilities are:
- To be heard and defend our position
- To win the argument
- To hear what the other person really wants
- To make peace while finding an amicable solution.
We all have our own lists; take the time to think about what your list would include.
I recently found myself having conversations that could have easily ended in disaster. Different opinions and goals came into play. In a few of these conversations, the result could have been hurt feelings and strained relationships if I had not taken an adult timeout. Harsh words can be said and before you know it, an argument could ensue that might have been avoided. If you find yourself in this position, try any of the following before you lose your cool. Simply say:
- “Let me think about that and get back to you.”
- “It sounds good, but I need to give that some thought.”
- “You make a good point; however I need to think that over.”
And if you find that you have said words you regret, or if you were just plain wrong, it is okay to call the person back and say:
- “I am sorry”.
- “You were right”.
- “I made a mistake”.
Although these tactics might seem like common sense, they are often ignored when we are tired, angry, or frustrated. Therefore, taking the time to cool down allows the groundwork for a comfortable solution.
Think about these suggestions the next time you feel that a conversation is going in the wrong direction.
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