Conflict-Creating and Conflict-Reducing Comments

“Of course I’m right. I’m always right.”

Avoid Conflict-Creating Comments

Resolving conflict begins by recognizing and eliminating your contributions to an argument. If you don’t think you contribute at all, then this exercise will be easy. Show the following list of comments to a person with whom you have recurring conflict. Ask them if they’ve heard you say any of them. If not, cool! If so, um, not so cool.

  1. “I am right you are wrong and that’s that!”
  2. “My point of view is the right point of view!”
  3. “Your intentions are terrible!”
  4. “You started it!”
  5. “Why didn’t you prevent this conflict from happening?!”
  6. “I know what you’re thinking, feeling, and/or assuming.”
  7. “I know all I need to know about what happened!”
  8. “I’ve got to persuade you that I’m right!”
  9. “What you did was wrong!”
  10. “You make me mad (guilty, miserable, depressed, frustrated).”
  11. “Your actions impact me negatively so cut ’em out!”
  12. “To keep the peace I’ll keep my feelings to myself.”
  13. “You created my bad feelings!”
  14. “You’re responsible for my emotions!”
  15. “You must understand how I feel!”
  16. “It’s up to you to prevent all future conflicts!”
  17. “Ignore emotions and stick to facts!”
  18. “You must learn about my emotions!”
  19. “I am either competent or incompetent, I can’t be both.”
  20. “I am either good or bad, I can’t be both.”
  21. “I am either lovable or unlovable, I can’t be both.”
  22. “I am only trying to help.”
  23. “You’re so stubborn I need to get aggressive with you.”
  24. “You’re so naïve I need to teach you how life works.”
  25. “You’re selfish, manipulative, and controlling so I withdraw!”
  26. “How can you be so irrational?”
  27. “If you loved me you’d change.”
  28. “You shouldn’t hurt or feel bad because I didn’t mean it.”
  29. “You hurt me intentionally!”
  30. “Our opinions differ and since we can’t both be right, you’re wrong!”

Practice Conflict Reducing Questions

Here are questions that deescalate conflict. Learning how to reduce conflict is hard but important. Show this list to a person with whom you have recurring conflict and ask them to choose five that they wish you’d use more often.

  1. “What is important to you in this situation?”
  2. “What’s it like from your point of view?”
  3. “What are your intentions?”
  4. “How did I contribute to this conflict?”
  5. “I wonder why didn’t I see this conflict coming?”
  6. “I think I know where you’re coming from but I’m not sure.”
  7. “What do I not understand about your point of view?”
  8. “What’s your side of the story?”
  9. “What have I done that is wrong?”
  10. “What is my impact on you?”
  11. “If you continue to wound me I’ll be forced to withdraw.”
  12. (to self) “What am I feeling in this situation?”
  13. “Your behaviors trigger not cause my bad feelings.”
  14. “I wonder how I can better manage my emotions?”
  15. “What are your feeling in this situation?”
  16. “How can we prevent this from happening again?”
  17. “Emotions are natural; can we discuss them?”
  18. “Teach me about your emotions; what are you feeling?!”
  19. “I am both competent and incompetent.”
  20. “I am both good and bad.”
  21. “I am both lovable and unlovable.”
  22. “You are a complex person and I’ve got a lot to learn.”
  23. “Your self-esteem is important to me.”
  24. “Why are you hurt? I’ll bet you’ve got info that I need to understand.”
  25. “I actually don’t know what your intentions are. What are they?”
  26. “Because we have different perspectives, both matter. What’s yours?”
  27. “I feel _____ when you engage in ______ behaviors.”
  28. “What’s getting in the way of stopping the things that irritate us?”
  29. “What does this look like from your point of view?”
  30. “My persistence isn’t working, is it? What would work?”

2009 © text and picture, Erik Johnson

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