Our algorithm picks up specific words and phrases that communicate to counterparts that you are actively engaged with their perspective. You can learn to use more of the receptive cues and fewer of the unreceptive cues in order to improve your communication.
Acknowledgement: The best way to signal receptiveness is to acknowledge your partner’s perspective with phrases like “I understand…” or “you are saying…” or “I hear that…” taking a brief few seconds to signal that you are really listening can go a long way to improving everything about the conversation that happens afterwards.
Positive emotion: Positive emotion words help ease any difficult conversation. For example, you might say “I am happy to hear you say that…” or “I am eager to learn more about…” in order to show your counterpart that you value the opportunity to talk to them and learn about each other.
Hedges: When talking to somebody we disagree with we try too hard to sound confident and sure. But most complicated questions, have complicated answers. Words like “sometimes” “perhaps” “It seems like” and “occasionally” signal that you understand the complexity and are willing to be honest about the fact that nothing is true 100% of the time.
Agreement: Signaling agreement means finding commonalities of perspective even in the midst of conflict. This can be done with phrases like: “I agree that…” or “I also believe that…” or “Similarly…” Finding areas of agreement does not mean changing your mind or compromising. It simply means that all humans have at least a few ideas and values that they hold in common, even in the midst of disagreement.
First person single pronoun: The first person single pronoun is “I.” Using ”I” in conversations about conflict helps you share your personal feelings beliefs and experiences, without getting into unhelpful overclaiming and generalities. Phrases like “I think” and “I believe” shows that you are expressing your genuine, thoughtful convictions.
Second person: The second person pronoun “you” shows that you are paying attention to your counterpart. It often comes paired with acknowledgement in phrases like “you are saying” or “you think” or other phrases that verbally recognized that the conversation is made up of two people.
Negation: Words like “no” “can’t” “won’t” and “doesn’t” can sound contradictory and argumentative. They are likely to make your counterpart think that you are more interesting in opposing them then listening to them. Try to avoid these.
Reasoning: Words often used in debate (or even academic writing) such as “because” “therefore” and “actually” can sound condescending. They come across as you working too hard to explain your own point of view instead of thoughtfully engaging with your partner’s point of view.