7 Genius Phrases to Shut Down Conflict, According to a Psychologist

Conflict or disagreement concept

Can't we all get along? It would be nice, wouldn't it? While all the fighting on social media, especially over the last few years, can veer into toxic territory, conflict is a natural part of relationships. Sometimes, disagreements leave room for growth and bring two people together. Other times, it's best to shut down conflict and move along. In most instances, what you say is essential.

"Effective and intentional communication is key," says Reena B. Patel, a positive psychologist and licensed educational board-certified behavior analyst with 160K Instagram followers. "When you have conflict, and you are 'word vomiting,' oftentimes your point is not coming across clearly. Everyone gets on the defense or is even more confused [and] conflicted, [which] creates more conflict."

Sound familiar? Keep calm, and try these seven carefully crafted phrases for shutting down conflict. 

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Wait—Shouldn't I Be Addressing Conflict?

Well, yes. Addressing conflict is often an excellent way to shut it down. 

"When the topic gets heated and passionate, you are faced with two options," Patel says. "One is to avoid conflict and stop the conversation. The second is to address it."

Sometimes, it's best to avoid the conversation. For instance, if someone cuts you off on the highway or you think the conversation could escalate and become physical.

"You don't want anyone to take it there or get hurt, so it's best to walk away," Patel says. "You can see this often in road rage or if someone has had too many drinks at a bar and wants to fight after words have been exchanged."

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Also, Patel says if the conflict really isn't that big of a deal to you—but is a massive deal to someone else—you might leave well enough alone. For instance, maybe you don't agree with a friend's decision to give her 6-month-old a tablet. Is it worth fighting over? Probably not.   

Other times, addressing the conflict is necessary to end it. Otherwise, it'll just keep going.

"If this is a conversation that needs to be addressed, then it's important to do just that," Patel says. "If it's an important issue to you and is affecting you personally, both your mental health and well-being, then it's time to talk. Holding it in and letting it go can create the least amount of conflict in the moment, but resentment will build, and it could create a bigger issue and bigger blowup later on."

Here's how to address conflict and shut it down with simple phrases. 

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7 Phrases to Shut Down Conflict, According to a Psychologist

1. "I hear you, but this is how I see it."

Conversations are two-way streets. Yes, even when emotions are high during conflicts.

"This phrase literally confirms that you are listening and not immediately jumping to defense and trying to get your point across," Patel says. "It also gives you both an opportunity to share."

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2. "I understand where you are coming from, but I think differently."

It's possible to show empathy without veering from your truth.

"You are showing empathy here by saying you understand, but the key part of this statement is that you are not agreeing with them," Patel says. "You are acknowledging their thoughts and feelings but holding your own line."

3. "I am feeling this way about this situation, which may be different from how you are seeing it."

When you can see a heated conflict coming a mile away, this proactive statement can help you gently pump the brakes.

"No one else is allowed to say you are not allowed to feel a certain type of way, so starting with why it's making you feel this way may help diffuse the situation so they can relate to feelings over words," Patel explains. "Being open about feelings is always a great way to get a viewpoint across."

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4. "How can we get on the same page about this?"

Sometimes, agreeing to disagree is a great approach. However, there are times you and someone else will need to get on the same page, whether meeting in the middle or proceeding with one person's preferences. Think work projects and holiday plans.

"This phrase shows you want a resolution, and you are problem-solving together to reach an end goal," Patel says. "This is great for when you are not trying to push your point of view on each other but rather come up with an end solution together. You are working together to shut down conflict."

5. "I am open to hearing you out, but I also want to share where I am coming from."

It's tempting to avoid conflict, but if you want to end it, a direct approach might be the best option. 

"I love how straightforward this statement is," Patel says. "It explains exactly what you are trying to say."

It's also letting the other person know that you intend to give them the floor, which can soften the blow and leave the door open for listening and resolutions.

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6. "Let's take a minute to regroup and talk when we are calm and have had a minute to think about what we want to say next."

Sometimes, it's best to walk away, but that doesn't mean you're ignoring the elephant in the room.

"This is perfect for when the moment is getting heated and may be escalating," Patel shares. "It's better to take a breather and think about what words we want to communicate next."

7. "I want to see your side too. Help me understand your point of view."

Listening before you talk can effectively shut down conflict, and this phrase nails it.

"It shows you are open and care about their perspective," Patel says. "It is a great option when feelings are getting escalated in conflict."

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