One-Liners to Avoid in an Argument
They slice and dice, cutting wounds not easily healed by pacifying words.
They’re the zingers we fling at each other during arguments, the cruel and aggressive wisecracks or retorts that escalate a fight like nothing else. And when the zingers begin to outnumber the kind words spoken to each other, it may be too late to fix the relationship because the love has dried up and blown away.
Many people ask me, “How do you communicate with your husband in your business?”
Clients notice that we get along and joke around with each other and have a good working relationship. I believe it comes down to two things:
- Creating autonomy with some interdependence (based on each other strengths) rather than micromanaging each other. Note, we always bounce ideas even though we’ve created that autonomy.
Learning how to communicate well in a conflict—how to argue without hurting and insulting each other—is possibly the most important relationship survival skill ever. Doing so reduces divorce and domestic violence rates—and increases personal happiness, relationship satisfaction and peace of mind.
Here, then, are a few one-liners you’d do well to avoid:
“That’s not what’s happening here!” This is just one of many versions of the line: “I’m right and you’re wrong!” And whether you say it or just think it, the only thing “You’re wrong!” creates is a lose-lose situation.
“You always…” or “You never…” Starting a sentence with either two-word phrase is guaranteed to raise temperatures. How about stating instead that the other person does XYZ “more times than feels good.” Rather than, “You never listen to me,” try something like this: “When you respond that way, I get the sense that you’re not understanding me in the way I’d like you to.”
“You really know how to hurt me.” This line assumes that the other person is intentionally trying to hurt you. It also implies that someone other than yourself has power over what you feel. It places you in the role of emotional “victim.” But you can choose whether or not to be hurt by someone’s actions.
“How can you be that way?” This isn’t really a question. It’s an aggressive statement something to the effect of, “You’re a terrible person, and you should be ashamed of yourself."
Of course, these are mild, compared to the doozies we can come up with in the heat of an argument. But for love to flourish and deepen, for healthy and long-lasting relationships, we need to learn how to incorporate acceptance, self-understanding, compassion and tolerance into our conflicts. And maybe one-liners like, “I love you!”