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Six Words to Express Yourself while Keeping the Peace

“Imagination”—Einstein by Mimi Stuart ©

Two people with different opinions can have an effective discussion if they listen to each other and speak in a way that will make them likely to be listened to. Here is an effective way to transition to your own point of view:

“Yes, though I see it differently.”

“Yes”

“Yes” shows that you have heard what the other person said. Of course it’s important to actually listen to the other person. “Yes” can be expanded to express what you understand the other person’s viewpoint to be.

For example, “Yes, I see that you think I criticized you.”

“Yes, I understand that you are really angry.”

“Yes, I recognize that she yelled at you.”

Tone

Tone of voice is key. A tone of condescension will cause the other person to bristle. A tone of hostility will cause the other to become defensive. A tone of weakness or victimhood will trigger the bully in the other person. So your tone should express self confidence as well as respect for the other.

“Though I see it differently”

Stating that you see things differently is quite different from saying one of the following:

“You’re wrong.”

“That’s stupid.”

“No, you don’t understand.”

It’s hard for the other person to argue against you simply because you “see things differently.” By approaching a difficult conversation in this way, you can politely and calmly introduce other considerations.

Your viewpoint

When you express your opinion, use terms such as “I believe,” “I think,” “My experience is,” “I have noticed,” “I want,” or “I need.”

For example, “I believe her anger comes from fear and not knowing how to communicate effectively. So I want to give her a chance.”

“To me, time alone is re-energizing; it’s not about being away from you. I simply need to recharge.”

“I really value compromise. I want to figure out a way to satisfy both of us as best as possible.”

Most discussions involve viewpoints rather than facts. So it’s best to avoid assuming a false dichotomy where only one person is right and the other is wrong. Others are more likely to really listen to you when you use words and body language that show respect and understanding for different points of view.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD