“Do You Know How To Avoid Words That Cause Conflict” – Negotiation Insight

“People walking blindly into conflict should not be surprised when they’re greeter is regret.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“Do You Know How To Avoid Words That Cause Conflict”

“People don’t realize; they’re always negotiating.”

Two friends, a man and a woman were talking about an associate’s son. The man stated that the associate’s son had four kids, of which one was not his natural child. The woman said, “you shouldn’t say that’s not his natural child. Instead, you might say, it’s his adopted child.” The man retorted, “you know what I mean when I say it’s not his natural child. And since you know what I mean, you should accept my phraseology with the intent of its meaning.”

From there, their conversation disintegrated into conflict. The two friends had had thousands of discussions in the past. But this time, the two friends would be led to conflict due to the utterance of an objectionable word.

A countless number of people are dragged into conflict every day because of the phrases and words they use. And you’re one of them. If you’d like to know what some of those phrases are and how to avoid the conflicts that are caused by the words you use, implement the following strategies. Doing so will help you avoid the conflict that certain words create.     


You should always be aware of someone’s mindset when conversing with them. If one’s mind is irritated from a prior situation, that irritation might seep into your conversation. And with it may come disruptive emotional baggage. Thus, while you’re engaging that person in an attempt to highlight your points, that individual may be hearing sounds of the prior conversation that wreaked havoc on them.

Remember, past interactions can evoke previous emotions in current situations. If you sense that might be the condition in your case, address it at that moment. Please don’t allow it to fester into what could become an uncontrollable arbitrage. That would serve no one’s purpose.

Trigger Words

Words such as, always, you should/must, ridiculous, relax, chill out, etc., can serve as words that trigger someone’s emotions such that they become defensive. And from that position, your initial conversation may become derailed as the result of you discussing that something doesn’t occur all the time. After that, the discussion could further disintegrate. It could evolve into one were people defend their word choice, rather than the topic of their conversation. 

Trigger words can lead to unwanted circumstances and outcomes, which is why you should be mindful of how and when you use them. If you know certain words will trigger someone to adopt a particular mindset, and you wish to avoid it, don’t trigger them. On the other hand, if you’re aware of that fact and you intend to do so, be cautious with your efforts. Once triggered, you never know to what degree your effects may have on someone. Thus, you run the risk of losing control if things get too far out of hand.


Be mindful of when someone uses certain words. They may be attempting to bait you. It’s one way someone can alter your emotions and thought process.

Baiting occurs when a person uses a word that triggers a particular emotion or reaction. Someone can do it intentionally or unintentionally. When done intentionally, there may be a hidden agenda to rile you up, or done to evoke a mindset of compliance within you. In either case, you should be aware of how someone might be triggered to act based on the word choices you invoke during an interaction with them. That’ll be the source that determines the degree that the communication is amiable or fraught with disgruntlement.  

Verbal Signs

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, – I got all of that.” I’m sure you’ve heard such phrases in your conversations. They’re either signals that the listener is becoming tired of your pontifications or she’d like to speak. In either case, let her have the floor. And when you do, engage in active listening.

People make utterances to let you know that it’s time for you to move on. Pay attention to those signs. They can help you avoid the road of conflicts that come from speaking too long or using the wrong words.


Depending on the environment, you can control the conflict that stems from the choice of words someone uses when they’re engaging you. If you’re in person or talking on the phone, you can abstain from participating in the conversation by leaving the environment; that would entail concluding the discussion at the point when things began to become uncontrollable. If you’re communicating via email, text messages, etc., you can respond after you’ve considered what the appropriate response should be and what reply might come from that.

The point is, realize that you have some control when conversations begin to turn sour, based on your ability to control the words that lead to conflict. Thus, be aware of your rising emotions, and those of the party with whom you’re communicating before you enact such control. But by all means, make sure you exercise restraint in such situations. The future of your relationship with the other party hangs in the balance. 


Some people think displaying empathy is a form of control. That may be true based on how someone perceives it. When attempting to alter the negative course that conflict has inflicted, empathy may be the salve that quickens the closing of that wound. But, I suggest you apply its use at the appropriate time. Because if you attempt to employ it close to an altercation, the bruised feelings that came from it may be too bear to stunt the emotional pain. Thus, if you let time elapse, the wound may be more receptive to the application of empathy. And of course, the timing depends on the situation and those involved.  


People stumble into conflicts by being unaware of the words they use and the disruptive cause their statements can have on someone’s mind. If you become more astute about your word choices, you’ll avoid the cause that ignites conflicts. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

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