There’s no worse feeling than the one you get after you’ve just had an epic, all-out, tongue lashing, blowout fight. No matter the reason, and whether it’s with your child, your spouse, your sibling, or your friend—serious disagreements leave a sickening feeling that can last for days.
As a teenager, I remember one particular battle that neither my parents or I wanted to lose. It was a fierce face-off over a curfew that I felt was unfair and they felt was more than generous. The blowout ended in me screaming and my mom crying. The mood in our home afterward was overcast and I don’t remember exactly when or how we got back to normal, but we did.
Since then, I’ve learned some interesting life lessons, as my parents once promised—you’ll understand when you have kids of your own. Now with a family of my own, I get it. Buttons get pushed, harsh words are spoken, and blowout fights happen. So how do you get back to good quickly? Here are some valuable lessons I’ve learned with my own children that can easily be applied to any argument.
So You Had a Blowout Fight? 6 Ways To Get Back to Good
1. Let it rest.
So things got heated. Maybe you just had a beef over who gets grandma’s heirloom sideboard, or maybe a wet towel got left on the floor again and it’s not really even about the towel but now you’re holding a smoking gun.
We all say things in the moment that we don’t really mean and we all do things in the moment that we wish we could take back. It’s important to understand that the person on the other side of that smoking gun has said or done the same. Lately, my eight-year-old has been going through a weird phase. He’s testing his boundaries and quite frankly pushing me over the edge. A few days ago I got fed up and exploded. He exploded. It was like putting two eggs together in the microwave.
The Result: We’re both fuming.
Damage Control: Let it rest.
There’s a rule in cooking that all chefs follow: you gotta give sizzling meat time to rest. You can’t just take a steak off the grill and cut right into it; your steak will be better if you let it rest. The same goes for a blowout fight. After the flames, you gotta give it time to rest. Not too much time (the reason some relationships are greatly damaged), but a sufficient amount of time where each party can cool off and and start thinking logically.
2. Determine the trigger.
While you’re letting it rest, it’s important to determine the trigger of your argument. Are you upset about the fact that a damp towel was left on the ground, or is the heart of the matter that you’ve been feeling overwhelmed and could use a little more help around the house?
No matter who the fight is with, step back and look for the trigger. What is the disagreement really about? Once you determine the trigger, you’re one ginormous step closer to a resolution. Figuring out what’s at the heart of the fight leads to empathy, understanding, and step number three, communication.
3. Be the first to speak.
My kids would rather volunteer for toilet cleaning duty than apologize to one another. One day I came downstairs to find my youngest two wailing on each other and I put them on two chairs facing each other and told them they couldn’t get down until they each apologized.
Each of them sat, arms crossed, silent for over an hour.
They missed storytime; they missed the ice cream truck.
Don’t be a silly child. If you want to put out the flames before they consume the whole house, you have to be the first one to speak. That may mean saying I’m sorry, or just Hey, can we talk?
Don’t miss the ice cream truck because you were too stubborn to talk.
4. Admit mistakes.
It’s hard to admit when you’re wrong, but in most epic battles, each side has done something wrong. Rarely is a wrongdoing one-sided. The very best way to move past a fight and get on with the good stuff of life is to drop your guard and admit your mistake.
After battling over my son’s piano lesson, I came down hard with a crushing mallet: I’m taking $20 out of your bank to cover the lesson that you missed because you were throwing a fit! And he parried back with a swift sword to the gut: I never even wanted to take piano! I hate you for making me!
After cooling off and realizing that he had just got home from a busy testing day at school, was hungry and lashing out at me, I went into his room, asked if we could talk, and told him frankly that I hadn’t handled the situation very well.
Once we got talking, we both admitted what we’d done and said some things we didn’t mean and the air immediately felt better.
5. What do we each want?
A big part of resolving any conflict is figuring out what each party wants. If I’m talking about my son and piano lessons, he wants to quit piano and I want him to continue.
If you’re talking about a spousal disagreement, try narrowing down what each partner wants. When my dad’s siblings got together to disperse my grandparent’s estate, in order to avoid a huge blow-up, they first met to discuss what each person wanted from the estate. Each person was heard and if there was a conflict, a compromise was made.
6. How can we compromise?
Which leads to the last step in resolving any blowout fight—compromise. Once you’ve either vocally or logically determined what each party wants, you can start to work on a compromise.
For my son and the piano lesson blowout, I’m happy to report we came to an agreement. We decided that once he could open an agreed-upon music book and play any given page confidently, then he could quit taking piano lessons. This gave him an incentive to work hard and I came away feeling like a winner too.
We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have disagreements from time to time. They happen with coworkers, neighbors, family, and even friends. Be the first to apply these six strategies and get back to good.
Because life is too short to waste precious years, weeks, days, or even minutes of your life harboring ill feelings. Don’t miss out on the ice cream trucks of life. Cool your jets, talk it out, and find a compromise. Because life has so many delicious Firecracker Pops and Fat Boys in store.
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