Sunday, November 24, 2013

Useful Noncommittal Words for Harmony in Relationships

Sometimes, in potentially volatile conversations, we must smother verbal sparks with noncommittal words, rather than insist on being "right" and fanning flames that lead to everyone being burned. Here are some handy phrases to cool down the heat, so no one ends up "the sore loser" (see picture below--drawn by my son, Ian).


  1. "I can see why you think that." This phrase lets people know you're listening to them, suggesting that you agree with them, but not actually agreeing with what they say. (My son brought this line to my attention--by using it. He's a skillful diplomat, as the middle child, and only boy, between two strong-minded sisters.)
  2. "Thanks for your input." The word thanks gives value to the other person's words, without necessarily valuing them.
  3. "That's an interesting point." The word interesting offers delectable neutrality in sticky situations, without commitment.
  4. "I'll think about that." This allows you to show open-mindedness, maybe even to consider another viewpoint, without definitely committing to anything in advance.
  5. "You may be right." The overbearing listener will hear the words you and right without realizing that the may has not committed you to agreeing with him/her.
I am a firm advocate of directness in conversations, rather than evasiveness, but we all have those people in our lives with whom a conversation often escalates into a battle of wills. Life's short and high blood pressure only makes it shorter, so reconsider the value of being "right" for the sake of your own health With some people, you can consider noncommittal words a gift to their egos/insecurity/need to dominate. 

Let me know how this works for you! And please subscribe to my blog if you enjoyed this.