Suzette Haden Elgin

Recognizing language that escalates

Acknowledging that there are times when escalating a conflict is the appropriate thing to do, if your ultimate goal is discussion and some kind of mutual agreement, how you bring that conflict into the open and force others to deal with it–the language you choose, the process you follow–will make or break your chances of productive engagement.

  • Blaming others.
  • Being over-apologetic or accommodating. “That’s okay, you just go ahead and have a good time without me.”
  • Asserting one’s rights, stating one’s perspective with absolute certainty, globalizing (what’s true for me is true for everyone else).
    Everyone knows that he steals. No one has a right to talk to me like that.
  • Attacking someone’s personality or morality, someone’s motivations. You knew we had a different plan yet you went ahead unilaterally just to spite everyone. That manager is out to get us. I know you meant well, dear, but you lack judgment.

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