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How to Defuse Heated Arguments Before They Spiral Out of Control

heated argument


When you’re in a heated argument, it’s easy to lose control of yourself quickly.

We often say something we don’t really mean. We do something we immediately regret. And we damage trust and respect in a way that’s hard to gain back.

These are the potential costs of the arguments we get into. The more heated, the worse they are, the more difficult it is to build a positive connection with that person in the future.

How can we avoid letting our conversations reach such an ugly point? What are ways we can defuse heated arguments before they spiral out of control?

The classic book Crucial Conversations is a great guide on how we can face these arguments better – whether they are at home, work, school, or wherever.

When we’re in a heated argument, we feel as if we are being personally attacked. This gets our blood flowing and engages our “fight or flight” response.

That adrenaline rush makes us act more impulsively and recklessly. At that point we stop thinking of ways to have a healthy conversation – we just want to attack back or run away!

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The Psychology Behind What Makes Ideas Popular

ideas


What makes some ideas spread like wildfire while others are dead on arrival?

Whether you’re a businessman, politician, musician, or artist – your success depends on your ability to get your ideas to spread to large amounts of people.

But how do you get people to pay attention to your ideas? And how do you get people to share your ideas and actually give a damn about them?

Jonah Berger does a great job answering these questions in his book Contagious. He is a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studies word of mouth, social influence, and viral marketing.

Using the latest research in psychology and illuminating them with insightful case studies, Berger discovers a common recipe behind good ideas and what makes them catch on.

Here are 6 principles behind what makes ideas become popular. Not all of these principles are completely necessary, but they are often big factors. The more an idea fits this recipe, the more likely it is to be successful.

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6 Moral Taste Buds That Shape Our Morality

moral taste buds


Why do we all have such a hard time agreeing on issues of politics, religion, and morality?

According to moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt in The Righteous Mind, groups like liberals and conservatives operate on different “moral foundations” that make it fundamentally difficult for them to understand each other (although it’s not impossible).

One great metaphor in the book used to describe morality is that it’s “like a tongue with 6 different moral taste buds.”

But just like we all have the same taste buds yet different tastes in food, it’s also true that we all have the same moral taste buds yet different tastes in morality.

As a result different groups are more sensitive to different moral taste buds over others. This is a big factor that shapes the differences in our moral beliefs.

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Metaphors We Live By: How Metaphors Frame Our Experiences in Different Ways


Metaphors are a way to explain one experience in terms of another experience.

For example, think of the metaphor “The movie was a roller-coaster.” In this metaphor, we are comparing the experience of watching a movie to the experience of a roller-coaster, even though objectively the experiences are very different.

A metaphor works by highlighting “conceptual similarities” between two different experiences. So a movie can be a roller-coaster in the sense that it has “ups” and “downs,” and is an overall exciting and thrilling experience.

According to the classic book Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, metaphors are essential for thinking and understanding our world in deeper ways, especially abstract concepts like “love” or “happiness.”

In fact metaphors are so embedded in our society and culture that we often use metaphors all the time without even realizing it.

Basic metaphors like, “I’m feeling up” or “I’m feeling down” are common ways we describe our emotions in terms of a physical orientation (where happiness is considered “up,” and sadness is considered “down”).

To George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, metaphors aren’t just fancy ways of saying things – they have a direct influence on how we see our world and how we interact with it.

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The Power of Seeing Things as They Are (Not How We Want to See Them)

seeing things as they are


Over the past century, psychology has discovered a lot about how individuals can live happier and more successful lives. A lot of this research is covered in the many articles I write for The Emotion Machine.

But what’s just as fascinating to me is how much we can also learn from older philosophies. For example, my personal philosophy is influenced by a whole range of different schools of thought, including: Existentialism, Buddhism, Taoism, Objectivism, and – the subject of this article – Stoicism.

The truth is we don’t need to subscribe to only one school of thought. Instead we can learn from multiple schools and borrow what works for us, and ditch what doesn’t.

Stoicism is a philosophy first started in Ancient Greece in the 3rd century BCE. One of it’s primary teachings is to “focus on what is in your control and ignore what isn’t in your control.”

To follow this teaching, the Stoics knew that we had to observe reality as it is, and not always as we want it to be. Because only by honestly observing our world can we correctly discover what’s in our power vs. what isn’t.

Here is a collection of thought-provoking quotes from Marcus Aurelius’ classic work Meditations, which help describe this power of seeing things as they are and why this is so important.

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