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8 Ways to Stop Minor Arguments From Escalating Into Big Fights


Arguing with your loved ones can be a totally normal and healthy thing. You’re expressing your thoughts and feelings, and it can help you reach a decision that works for both of you. However, it`s really easy to get all worked up and hurt someone you care about, letting your emotions get the better of you.

We at Bright Side think that these unpleasant situations can be avoided. You just need to know a few tricks!

1. Start out gently.

The first 3 minutes of an argument can indicate how it will end. If you’re really angry and emotional at the beginning, the end may be just as bad, and it’ll be more difficult to come to an agreement. So if you’ve got a complaint or you’re upset about something the other person did, try not to sound accusatory and judgmental and try to keep your cool. This can ensure that the rest of your conversation will continue in a more friendly manner.

2. Use the “magic ratio.”

study of couples in the 1970s showed that there were both positive and negative sides to how happy couples interact. But for the sides to balance each other out, the ratio should be 5 to 1. That means that happy couples have just one negative interaction with each other for every 5 positive interactions.

What could help you to balance out the negative emotions during an argument are the 5 positive things that your partner did before that. To keep track of these moments better, it would be a good idea to start a journal and, every time your partner does something that makes you happy or that you are grateful for, write it down. And during an argument, you could either get the journal and read the list just to yourself, or read it out loud for your partner to hear.

3. Use “I” instead of “you.”

When you start your sentences with “You (did something wrong),” the other person will feel attacked and will want to protect themselves. That could mean getting angry and fighting back by accusing you too. To sound more respectful, tell them how their actions made you feel by starting your sentences with “I” and “I feel.” That way it won’t look like you’re putting all the blame on them, but rather that you’re explaining that something genuinely upset or hurt you.

4. Find a compromise.

Remember that, if you’re arguing with someone you love and care about, the most sensible thing to do is to end the argument as fast as possible, and to not try to win it at any cost. Because if you do the latter, you might end up hurting someone that matters to you, and your relationship might start to crumble. So instead, try to find a compromise. Even if in the end you don’t get everything that you want, you’ll know that both you and the other person got at least part of what you wanted, while staying on good terms.

5. Use your imagination and sense of humor.

  • We usually start carrying the argument to ridiculous extremes, until one of us starts laughing hysterically. So, if it starts out as: “I don’t see you nearly enough, I feel like you don’t love me, arrrr, grumpiness!” We escalate it to “You moved to planet Mars and you didn’t even tell me, man!” — atenea-del-sol / reddit
  • Sometimes I like to quote the Lego movie: “All I’m asking for is total perfection!!” and then laugh about how outrageous we got in our arguments. Or when I realize that I sound really whiny, I take it to an extreme level like a toddler: “Play with meeeee! I wanted a ponyyyyy!!” — Khal_Pogo / reddit

6. Mirror the other person’s language.

During an argument, we often feel misunderstood, and it’s like the other person doesn’t hear what we’re saying. So when it feels like you’re talking to a wall, it’s understandable that we might get frustrated and angry. That’s why it’s important to actively listen and to show that by repeating what the other person has said and telling them you get it.

7. Choose a “safe word.”

Once you’ve noticed that your arguments often go too far and you can’t control them, decide on a “safe word” with your partner. It should be something neutral or positive, so that it doesn’t get you even more worked up. This word will mean: “We need to calm down before we can continue.”

  • “When she gets really mad and the apologies have been said and she’s still mad, I ask her to say ‘bubbles.’ It’s very hard to say ‘bubbles’ and sound angry. It’s like trying to make a dramatic slam-the-door exit with a zip-up tent. I’d say it works 75% of the time.” — NiagaraRick / reddit

8. Listen to emotions, not words.

In the heat of the moment, we tend to say things we don’t really mean. So it’s better to focus on the emotions of the person you’re arguing with, and not their words. That way the words won’t be able to hurt you and cause you to become even more upset with the other person.

How do you make sure an argument doesn’t turn into a huge fight? Do you use any tricks?



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