The ability to disagree without being disagreeable is a vital communication skill for success both at work and at home. Here is a not so obvious way to increase the likelihood your next difficult conversation doesn’t escalate or do damage to the relationship.

Watch out for “command and control” language. This is language designed to tell people what to do or how to behave, even when we don’t have the authority or responsibility to do so. Some examples of “command and control” language are:

“You need to…”

“You have to…”

“You should..”

Instead, try phrasing such as:

“I would appreciate it if…”

“I would like it if…”

“Would it be possible to…”
Using “command and control” language can trigger hostility and defensiveness in others and can cause a conversation to escalate. Savvy conflict managers make a conscious effort to choose their words wisely, especially during emotionally charged situations and they work to avoid “command and control” language and replace it with language that doesn’t make people feel disrespected, bullied, and defensive. Use this tip and learn to disagree without being disagreeable and you will be a better leader, better team member and your relationships will thrive.

For more tips on managing conflict check out this webinar series on conflict and confrontation.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.