Disagreement Rebound Time: How Quickly Do You Recover?

newsletter resilience self-awareness

Want to change the way you interact with everyone who matters?

Work on this: your disagreement rebound time

(I just made that up, maybe it has a real name)

I drastically improved this as a parent, husband, and leader. It made a huge difference.

Recognizing your own rebound story

I didn't grow up in a family that handled disagreement well. In fact, it basically wasn't allowed. That meant when it did happen, it was a big deal.

Couple that with my general nature to harp on my own mistakes, and I was terrible at disagreement rebounding.

I made up stories in my head that the other person hated me.

I berated myself for ever having the disagreement in the first place.

I would be awkward and anxious around people after any sort of disagreement.

I was certain that even weeks later, the other person was still focused on the incident.

But it was like 97% in my head.

The benefit of being able to rebound from disagreements

Now, I have completely changed my mindset. I noticed how important this was to relationships sitting at a restaurant with my son.

We had just come out of a contentious therapy session. He and I saw something very differently, and I was accepting of his view point but also firm on my own.

He had ended up curled up in a ball with a cushion over his head, refusing to speak.

That is bound to happen in working on these uncomfortable situations. Doesn't bother me in the slightest.

20 minutes later, we were happily discussing the merits of different burger places. We had spoken for 2 minutes after the session about what happened, and moved on.

Didn't bury it, but didn't force a resolution either.

We had both rebounded.

That made it so easy for me to believe we had made progress, and would come back to it again.

For now, we could get back to the fun and connected relationship we had.

The Journey to Better Disagreement Rebound

Turning the tide on your disagreement rebound time requires both self-awareness and concerted effort. Here are four concrete suggestions to help you master this skill and enhance your interactions:

  1. Self-Reflection and Self-Compassion: Begin by recognizing that disagreements are a natural part of human interactions. Practice self-reflection to understand your emotional triggers and responses. Rather than berating yourself, extend self-compassion. Acknowledge that disagreements are natural and healthy, especially on topics you feel passionate about.
  2. Mindfulness and Emotional Regulation: Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine. Take a walk, read a book, meditate - whatever works for you. By staying present and grounded, you can respond thoughtfully rather than reacting impulsively. Remember, a calm demeanor can defuse even the most heated disagreements.
  1. Normalize respectful disagreement: Don't shy away from conflict. When it presents itself, remain calm and respectful, but stand your ground on topics you feel strongly. When conflict is saved up from many interactions, it is much more likely to get heated. Embrace small disagreements to show that you are able to handle them without making a big deal about it.
  2. Learning from Disagreements: View disagreements as opportunities for growth. Post-disagreement, take time to reflect on what went wrong and how you contributed to the situation. Consider what you've learned and how you can use that to make the interactions better in the future. This approach transforms disagreements into stepping stones toward stronger relationships.


The Transformational Impact

Reducing your rebound time and learning to move past conflict will help in every facet of your life.

Relationships with your kids will be easier because you can trust that the connection is there. You can express your love for them even when conflict happens, which is inevitable. That will remind your kids that the conflict likely comes from a place of caring, even if it feels differently to them at the time.

Interactions with your spouse will get easier. Make sure to stay playful, even when conflict is happening. The Gottman Institute notes that an easy way to track how couples are doing is by their body language during disagreements. If you can get over the argument and get back to being caring towards each other faster, it is a very good sign for the health of the relationship.

At work, minimizing your rebound time can be a great way to foster psychological safety. Healthy task conflict is critical to ensuring the best ideas are always presented and built upon. Being able to quickly recover because the team has respect for each other will go a long way towards making that a part of the culture. If someone stays angry or responds badly to disagreement, some people that are natural conflict avoiders (like me) may be less likely to speak up.

"Disagreement rebound time" might not have a universally recognized name, but its impact on your life is undeniable. Make sure you pay attention to yours, so you can have the hard conversations you need to in life with the ones you love. Then get back to the love and connection quickly.


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