9 things emotionally intelligent people never say in an argument

There’s a vast difference between arguing effectively and letting emotions take control.

The key lies in self-awareness. Emotionally intelligent people know exactly what to say during an argument, but more importantly, they know what not to say.

Engaging in an argument doesn’t mean you have to be hurtful. In fact, the smartest among us know that certain phrases can escalate a situation rather than resolving it.

And here are 9 phrases that emotionally intelligent people steer clear of during an argument:

1) “You always…”

Engaging in an argument requires tact and emotional intelligence. One of the key things emotionally intelligent people never do is using absolutes like ‘always’ or ‘never’.

These words can create a feeling of being attacked and can escalate an argument rather than resolving it. They can make the other person defensive, causing them to shut down or retaliate instead of engaging in a productive conversation.

Emotionally intelligent people understand this and avoid using such language. Instead, they focus on specific behaviors or instances, discussing the issue at hand without making sweeping generalizations about the person’s character or habits.

This approach promotes understanding and facilitates resolution, rather than fostering resentment and escalating the conflict.

So, remember to avoid absolutes if you want to argue effectively and resolve conflicts in a healthy manner.

2) “I told you so”

We’ve all been there. The argument’s over, you were right, and the temptation to say ‘I told you so’ is almost irresistible. However, as someone who’s learned the hard way, I can assure you it’s a phrase best avoided.

In my early days of marriage, I’d often find myself in arguments over mundane things like directions on road trips. Once, after my husband took a wrong turn despite my advice, the phrase slipped out – “I told you so.” Instead of resolving the issue, it only made him more defensive and the argument escalated.

Over time, I’ve realized that emotionally intelligent people refrain from using such phrases. It doesn’t contribute to resolving the conflict but instead comes across as gloating over a victory. It can be perceived as an attack on the other person’s intelligence or judgement, which only fuels resentment.

So, from personal experience, I would advise against saying ‘I told you so’ in an argument. Instead, focus on what can be learned from the situation and how to prevent similar issues in the future.

3) “Whatever”

In the heat of an argument, sometimes it’s easier to dismiss the other person’s perspective with a curt “whatever”. However, this seemingly innocuous word can do more harm than good.

Using dismissive words like “whatever” during an argument is associated with relationship dissatisfaction and even divorce. Emotionally intelligent people understand that saying “whatever” during an argument can be perceived as dismissive and disrespectful.

It signals that you’re not interested in understanding the other person’s point of view, which goes against the main goal of resolving the conflict.

Instead, they opt for phrases that show they’re actively listening and open to finding a solution, such as “I see where you’re coming from,” or “Let’s try to find common ground.” This approach fosters better communication and mutual respect, crucial for resolving arguments effectively.

4) “You’re overreacting”

Another phrase that emotionally intelligent people avoid during an argument is “you’re overreacting”. This statement can easily be seen as belittling or invalidating the other person’s feelings.

Instead of calming the situation, it often fuels the fire. It sends a message that their emotions are not valid or important, which can lead to further resentment and misunderstanding.

Emotionally intelligent people understand the importance of acknowledging and validating feelings, even during a heated discussion. They practice empathy and strive to understand the emotions behind the words.

Rather than accusing someone of overreacting, they might say something like, “I can see that you’re really upset about this. Let’s take a moment and then try to talk it through calmly.” This approach shows respect for the other person’s feelings and encourages open communication.

pic1969 1 9 things emotionally intelligent people never say in an argument

5) “Calm down”

Telling someone to “calm down” during an argument might seem like a reasonable request. However, emotionally intelligent individuals understand that this phrase often has the opposite effect.

Instead of soothing the situation, it can come across as dismissive or patronizing. It implies that the other person’s emotions are not valid, which can further escalate the argument.

Emotionally intelligent people strive to maintain a calm and respectful tone during disagreements, but they also acknowledge the other person’s emotions. They might say something like, “I understand you’re upset, and I’m here to listen,” which shows empathy and a willingness to engage in productive dialogue.

Remember, the goal is to resolve the conflict, not suppress emotions.

6) “It’s not a big deal”

Minimizing the issue at hand with phrases like “it’s not a big deal” is another thing emotionally intelligent people avoid in an argument.

We all have different perspectives, and what may seem minor to you might be of significant importance to someone else. Dismissing their concerns can make them feel unheard and undervalued.

Imagine a situation where a friend is upset because you forgot a planned meet-up. To you, it might seem like a small oversight, but to them, it might feel like a disregard for their time and feelings.

Emotionally intelligent individuals realize this and show empathy instead. They might say something like, “I can see this really matters to you, and I’m sorry for overlooking it.”

It’s all about treating others’ feelings with respect and understanding, even if we initially don’t see the issue in the same light. It helps to foster mutual understanding, respect, and ultimately, resolution.

7) “But…”

In my early career, I often found myself using the word “but” during discussions or disagreements. Something like, “I hear what you’re saying, but…” I thought I was being diplomatic and considerate.

However, over time, I realized that “but” can negate everything that was said before it. It can make the other person feel as if their points or feelings are being dismissed.

Emotionally intelligent people understand this and replace “but” with “and.” So instead of saying, “I hear what you’re saying, but…”, they would say, “I hear what you’re saying, and I also think that…”

This small change in language acknowledges the other person’s viewpoint and opens up a space for your own without dismissing theirs. It promotes a more constructive and respectful conversation.

8) “That’s stupid”

Directly criticizing or belittling someone’s ideas or feelings is something emotionally intelligent people avoid during an argument. Phrases like “that’s stupid” are not only disrespectful but also counterproductive.

Such statements can shut down communication and escalate the argument, making it harder to reach a resolution. They can also damage relationships and create a hostile environment.

Instead, emotionally intelligent people focus on expressing disagreement in a respectful and constructive way. They may say something like, “I see where you’re coming from, but I have a different perspective.”

This approach encourages dialogue and understanding, fostering a healthier and more productive conversation.

9) “Whatever, I don’t care”

Emotionally intelligent people understand the power of words and the damage they can cause if used carelessly. Saying “Whatever, I don’t care” during an argument can be one of the most harmful things to say.

This phrase signals a lack of respect for the other person’s feelings and opinions. It suggests that you’ve disengaged from the conversation and the relationship itself.

Instead, emotionally intelligent people communicate their need for space in a respectful manner. They might say, “I think we both need some time to cool down before we continue this conversation.” This shows a commitment to resolving the issue and maintaining the relationship, even during difficult times.

Final thoughts: It’s all about empathy

The heart of emotional intelligence lies in empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It’s this understanding that guides emotionally intelligent people during an argument.

They avoid phrases that could escalate tension or belittle the other person’s feelings. Instead, they focus on fostering understanding, respect and finding common ground.

The American psychologist Daniel Goleman, known for his work on emotional intelligence, once said, “Empathy and social skills are social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence. That’s why they look alike.”

In essence, what we say during an argument can either build bridges or create walls. By choosing our words carefully and with empathy, we can ensure that even in disagreement, we’re moving towards resolution rather than further conflict.

Picture of Ethan Sterling

Ethan Sterling

Ethan Sterling has a background in entrepreneurship, having started and managed several small businesses. His journey through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship provides him with practical insights into personal resilience, strategic thinking, and the value of persistence. Ethan’s articles offer real-world advice for those looking to grow personally and professionally.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.