How often have we began a conversation with our loved ones, colleagues, friends with the goal to discuss, only to have it turn into an argument?
The whole thing just feels like a bullet train wreck – it’s out of your hands, it takes a life of its own and then people involved become upset, angry and all kinds of unkind words ensue.
There are so many factors why this sometimes happens. In this sharing, let’s keep a focus on using language to prevent an explosion.
This is what I teach my clients: Use the word I versus You. Possessing our feelings/emotions/behaviour and taking responsibility for the circumstance.
Whether it is a work discussion or a discussion regarding relationship and household matters, some kind of emotions/feelings will definitely surface. We are humans, and we come in little packages that include all of the good feelings and all of the bad feelings. Sometimes, for a number people, our feelings (good or bad) are so concealed and stuck deep inside that they don’t get expressed until a conversation with others ignites a spark within. For some others, we’ve got no control over our emotions that they get sparked anytime and anyplace.
One of the keys to remember if we do not want a discussion to turn into a debate is that we maintain our attention only on ourselves and the words we’re using. The fastest way to escalate it into an argument is to say YOU and play the blame game. This is a sure guarantee.
This is simply the ego protecting itself and wanting to come up tops in each and every human circumstance. So if we do not need to place ourselves in a position where things get volatile, avoid saying YOU too much and more importantly stay away from the blame game!
So how can we use the I word instead?
Take ownership of our own feelings/emotions that surface: I feel so sad, I feel so mad etc.. When we say what we’re feeling instead of expressing the feeling in a manner which is going to come across as if we are using another party as a punching bag, things are going to explode.
Do you see the difference between saying what you are feeling versus expressing what you’re feeling?
We say, I am feeling so mad about this circumstance.
If we express this anger, this is the way we could say: Why did this occur? How could something so stupid happen? Why do you do this? How can you let this happen? etc.. .
When we take ownership, we are saying we are responsible for how we feel, and we have to give other people an opportunity to say what they are feeling too.
I’m feeling so mad about this circumstance. I’m certain that no one intended it to be this way…
I am feeling so mad about this, I am not sure it was not your intention to hurt me, but I felt very hurt when I had been talked to this way…
I am feeling so angry about this, I don’t know whether they intended to do this on purpose, but I can’t help but feel so mad because the reality is, I feel so helpless in this situation…
The thing is using the I word will definitely make us emotionally vulnerable, BUT at the same time, it also assists the other party to see their own vulnerability.
So the next question a few people may ask is: what if the other person does not respond in kind but goes into an attack mode while we’re being vulnerable? Stay calm and remain in precisely the exact same position of owning our feelings/emotions and understand that we have taken the higher stand in this circumstance. One person can’t begin an argument, so if we don’t feed it, it is going to die off. A discussion can still happen if both parties have calmed down if not a discussion at the time is the best way forward.
Remember this: Discussions empower us, arguments weaken us.