I tend to notice how people respond to certain words. I guess that's something of an “occupational hazard” for me.
As I watch how people respond, I look for patterns. And I see a strong pattern developing around three words (and some variations) that almost certainly guarantee that a conflict will start or escalate if you use them carelessly.
So that you can beware of them slipping into your communications (especially in conflict situations), I'll share the three common conflict escalation words:
While I'm not suggesting that you never use the word no, I am suggesting that you be sensitive to how and when you use it. I have noticed that some people tend to start many statements with this word. And, I have carefully observed the body language of people who receive the “no” statement. It is almost universally negative.
I have written on the dangers of this word previously. Today, I'll share three other words that have essentially the same impact: however, except, and yet. My friend and colleague, JJ Brun, says that these words are “polite buts,” and I agree with him.
My real point here is to beware of using words with an absolute or final connotation. Another word that fits in this category is never.
The next time you find yourself in a conflict or confrontation situation, beware of these words and their common variations. Remember to use them intentionally — to make a specific point — rather than out of habit because they are the first words that come to mind.