Save Jokes For Later
Humor can help diffuse an argument, but it can also make things worse. Make sure the fight is starting to die down. “Humor can feel patronizing and dismissive if it’s done with poor timing,” warns Bernstein. “Wait until she is softening her demeanor or ask ‘Are you ok with me saying something to lighten the mood?’” Stick to subtle humor and steer clear of sarcasm, Fulbright says. Poke fun of yourself and say something like “Wow, I’m worked up” as you smile.
Take a Timeout
If she has her hands on her hips and keeps interrupting you, she’s probably too worked up. Table the argument ASAP and come back to it later in the day. Say, "Can we talk about this after I've had time to think about it?" By the time you come back to it, things will probably be much more relaxed. You should also put a temporary halt on fights that begin at bad times. Don’t start in after two bottles of wine or when you’re about to rush out the door. Drunken rants and slammed doors are pointless. Resist.
Watch Your Tone
If she says, “stop yelling,” don’t deny it unless you want to talk in circles all night. You’re probably raising your voice at least enough to make her uncomfortable, Rivkin says. Get off the loop and simply say, “OK, I must be more heated than I think I am. Let me take a break.” And if she’s the one shouting, don’t attempt to dominate the conversation by raising your voice to her level. Tell her that you’re listening to her and you’d like her to speak softly because you can hear her better when she stays calm, Bernstein says.