When was the last time you were in the midst of a heated argument, desperately hoping for some way to "get out" of the situation with your pride and ego in tact?
It happens a lot for most of us, especially when we're in a conflict with a loved one or relationship partner. So, I've developed a set of "off ramps" to help. Yep, off ramps. If you can imagine a runaway conflict like it's a superhighway to nowhere, then just imagine these conflict "off ramps" are exits that can help you take a break or even resolve the conflict in a manner that will keep you from losing too much face.
Here are some that I like to use to help my clients (usually couples) resolve conflict in a healthy way:
--Humor: Humor can be a great tool to lighten the mood, especially when things are really heated. Whether it's self-deprecation or just a phrase like, "are we an old grumpy married couple or what?!" using humor is a great way to show your partner the bigger picture
--"Maurice": My husband and I actually use this on a lot. Let's imagine "someone" has left all the dirty dishes in the sink AGAIN. If you'd like to get your point across, but want to do it in a lighter way, just blame "Maurice." He's been a very bad boy in our house.
--Affection: Many times, just a hug or kiss in the middle of a conflict can de-escalate a nasty conflict into a more modest disagreement.
--Get naked?: Our priest back in Idaho offered this one up during our Engagement Encounter, believe it or not. For couples who feel safe in their environments, just strip down already. Who can fight in his birthday suit?
Of course, you can come up with your own "off-ramps" and personalize them, and I often spend time during session coming up with all sorts of ways to de-escalate a conflict that seems to be getting out of control. They're worth a try and worth the result.