The other day I was at lunch with two friends who were working something out that was of so little consequence, it could barely even be called an argument. Then all of a sudden it seemed to erupt. The “how dare you accuse me of” and “how could you think I…” started and they were off. As a witness, I could see that they were neither understanding each other, nor were they looking to understand each other. They were in the protect/attack mode that we so often get into when we’re in an argument or feeling threatened.
As I was listening to them, I realized how much they both seemed like computers that needed a restart. All of their usual abilities to communicate clearly and effectively were jammed up. I’m sure you know that moment when your computer just stops responding to normal commands, a document you tried to open two minutes ago suddenly opens, your email stops loading, and you get alerts about programs failing to respond. Usually, the computer just simply needs to be restarted. This simple model is applicable to us humans as well. Restart – take a minute, get back to yourself, think of how you want to bring yourself to this argument, and start again.
One caveat: Be mindful of the classic approach of taking a break to “cool off” during an argument and then later just avoiding it all together. It may take a few restarts, and we think you’ll find this really helps.
To as many restarts as it takes.