Stop Any Argument With These 11 Words

Use this conflict-extinguishing phrase to bypass emotional overreactions.

Posted Oct 20, 2020

Caring, meaningful communication is a wonderful gift that occurs between people. Yet there are times when disagreements ensue, which can become very unsettling and upsetting. In these current times of pandemic-related and election-related politically divided tensions, this couldn't be more the case. I'm all about airing differences and working through them. But emotionally reactive, counterproductive conflicts usually do not end well.

I'm talking about those times when someone says something, or you say something, that sparks big-time clashes of views. Unfortunately, such communication conflicts can really strain egos and relationships. At this point, emotions take over, leading us to say and do things that we or others later wish could be taken back. But at that point, it's too late! 

When Tensions Turn Toxic

More often than not, we are seeking to feel heard, even when others disagree with us. The same goes for those with whom we disagree. When this need to be heard does not occur, we get all kinds of thoughts and emotions, some of which may be reactive and rigid. As I describe in my couples book, Why Can't You Read My Mind?,  sometimes these escalating thoughts can become toxic, such as:

"You always have to be right!"

"It's always about you!"

"You should listen to how stupid you sound right now!"

"If I can't even discuss this with you, how am I ever going to feel safe with you?" 

"You are a being a real _______!"

These types of reactive thoughts are clearly not conducive to constructive, meaningful conversations. In fact, all healthy relationships (intimate, parenting, work, or friendships) need to be nourished and supported with constructive conversations.

  • Wouldn't it be helpful to stop arguments in their tracks before they begin? 
  • And when arguments do occur, wouldn't it be helpful to be ready for when emotions start to escalate? 

I have a powerful phrase for you that can not only help stop arguments from escalating but, just as importantly, stop them from beginning in the first place! 

11 Words to the Rescue

As I write in my latest book, The Anxiety, Depression, & Anger Toolbox for Teens, mindful listening and mindful speaking (crucial for all ages) are valuable skills to help reduce unintended arguments and consequent conflicts. The more we are in the present moment, listen from a place of non-judgment, and show respect, the more constructive and productive we will be when communicating. 

To this end, I have found the following 11 words highly effective for bypassing emotional reactivity if and when conflicts arise. These words are:

"I respect that's how you see it, yet I see it differently."

Those 11 words allow each party to have their view. It allows both to agree to disagree. Stating that you respect the other person's view is an act of courtesy, which conveys grace and kindness. The more you offer this respect, while there are no guarantees, the more likely you will be respected as well. There is a much greater chance of this leading to a constructive, meaningful sharing of ideas. 

But What About...?

Perhaps you are skeptical. Maybe you are thinking, "Why show respect for someone you really disagree with?" My answer, "Why not?"

You may also wonder, "What if someone is downright disrespectful or cruel?" In such a case, it is best to, as gracefully as possible, take a break from or disengage from the connection with this person altogether.