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End Arguments by Learning to Listen
Arguing is literally bad for your health, according to research. The most powerful way to end arguments is by listening. Hereís how.


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When you learn to properly listen, not only will you end arguments, but you might live longer too.


The researchers found that stresses related to excess demands, conflicts, and arguing were linked to a 50 percent to 100 percent increased risk of death from any cause.”
If you live a life of arguments, fighting, and conflicts in your family and at work, you are killing yourself. Danish researchers have found that people who frequently fight and argue with partners, relatives, friends or neighbors are 2 to 3 times more likely to die than those who do notóthe study found that nearly half the deaths were from cancer, and the rest were due to heart disease, accidents, suicide and liver disease from alcohol abuse.

The researchers found that stresses related to excess demands, conflicts, and arguing were linked to a 50 percent to 100 percent increased risk of death from any cause. Among all these stresses, arguing was the most harmful.

The question remains, what to do about it? How might you stop an argument in its tracks?

One skill truly works at reducing or stopping arguments. The secret: Knowing how to listen, but not in the way you normally listen. Hereís how:

1. Ignore the words. When you ignore the words, you can listen to everything else.

When you listen to the words, your ego becomes involved. You will react to any nasty things the other person says to you, and the argument will inevitably escalate.

2. Be silent. This will keep you from becoming reactive, and it gives you a space to pay attention for the next step.

3. Observe and identify the emotions flowing through the other person. Emotions flow like waves. People experience many emotions at once or in a group. Identify those that seem obvious to you. There are usually five layers of emotions:

* Anger, frustration
* Disrespect, injustice, betrayal, not being heard
* Fear, anxiety
* Sadness, grief
* Abandonment, loneliness

4. Simply and directly reflect the emotions you are observing. "You are angry and frustrated. You donít feel heard. You feel betrayed."

5. Keep at it until you see a head nod from the other person. When that happens, stop. You are complete.

A couple of warnings. First, do not ask if someone is feeling an emotion. For example, do not say, "Are you angry?" Second, do not use "I" statements. You might have learned to say something like, "What I hear you saying is X." The science shows this is not only ineffective, it actually makes the other person more frustrated.

When you listen for the emotions, amazing things happen. First, your ego disappears, and you no longer can be triggered by anything being said to you. Second, you can de-escalate an angry adult or child in 90 seconds or less. Third, you can provide a priceless gift of listening another person into existence.

The challenge is that the skill is counter-intuitive. You might feel that reflecting someoneís emotions is rude. You might be reticent because you might be wrong. As you experiment with this type of listening, you will find that these fears are unfounded. Have courageóthis type of listening is powerful.

You must ignore the words and listen only for the emotions. You cannot use "I" statements or ask questions. The old active listening where you repeat back or paraphrase the words does not work to de-escalate anger and strong emotions. If you focus only on the emotional experience of your story teller, you will de-escalate strong emotions, such as anger and rage, in 90 seconds or less.

Learning how to listen can lengthen your life, reduce your stress, improve your relationships, and transform the lives of those you love. Like any serious skill, its takes knowledge and practice, but can be mastered in a few hours of instruction. Give yourself a precious gift of life: Learn how to listen.

Douglas E. Noll, JD, MA is an award-winning lawyer, author, speaker, and trainer. After a successful two-decade career as a trial lawyer, he devoted himself to understanding the root causes of human conflict. Today, he shares his knowledge with those interested in transforming their lives and relationships from drama and chaos to peace and love. For more strategies visit www.dougnoll.com.


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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.



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