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Handle conflict like a pro with the 20-minute break strategy

Even the strongest relationships have some conflict, and oftentimes, it’s not the conflict itself that threatens a relationship, but rather how individuals deal with conflict when it arises. If you can’t find a healthy way to work out your differences, you’ll end up burnt out and frustrated. There are all kinds of strategies for healthy conflict resolution out there, but one easy trick, recommended by the Gottman Institute, can help you manage conflict more productively starting today.

The strategy

During an argument, our brains go into fight or flight mode. The blood drains from our decision-making prefrontal cortex and we all too often say things we likely wouldn’t in a stress-free situation. To address this challenge, relationship experts recommend simply taking a break when an argument arises. If you find yourself in a disagreement, take a 20-minute pause to think, evaluate, and come back with a level head.

Benefits of a break 

This 20-minute period not only gives your mind time to cool down and reflect, but it also gives you time to empathize with your partner’s perspective. Take some time to do an activity that takes your mind off the argument, rather than thinking of your next convincing point. Practice yoga, read a book or watch some TV, and when you’re ready, re-approach the situation with the goal of understanding your partner’s perspective and finding a compromise.

If you’ve ever said something you wish you could take back in the heat of an argument, you’ll know how things can get out of hand in moments of conflict. Try the 20-minute break trick and see if it helps you build a stronger and healthier relationship.

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