Softer, gentle language is better received by others. You can get the same message across with a softer tone.
The conversation stays focused on the topic and doesn’t get argumentative because of unfortunate choice of words.
- Use ‘I statements’. “When _____, I feel ______”
- Choose words that foster collaboration rather than defensiveness or defiance. “How might we address this?”
- No blaming, judging or belittling.
- Avoid complaints and nagging.
- Don’t bring up a litany of past grievances.
- Describe the situation as objectively as possible.
- Avoid absolute words like “You never…” “It is always me who does …”
- Choose words that allow your spouse to clarify with dignity. “This is how I see it. How do you see it?” “Am I getting this right?” “Please help me understand how you see it.”
It is especially important to start your discussions about important and possibly contentious topics with a soft startup. And then stick to those softer ways of presenting your position.