Say This When Conflict Arises
In a Relationship

A scientifically-backed tactic to diffuse a situation

The Break-up movie
The Break-up movie

“I just don’t know how we got here. Our entire relationship, I have gone above and beyond for you, for us ... And I just don’t feel like you appreciate any of it. I don’t feel you appreciate me. All I want is to know, is for you to show me that you care.”

No matter how great your relationship is, all couples fight from time to time. About the right way to load the dishwasher. Or whether or not your ex should be texting you. You don't have to agree on everything, but a silly argument can escalate into a toxic fight and that's when things get really ugly. Thankfully, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley have recently discovered the right way to disagree. And bonus: It's easy and highly effective.

It all comes down to whether your significant other feels that you understand their point of view. For the study (PDF), published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, monitored how couples fight and tracked common hot-button issues. Not surprisingly, fighting made people less happy with their relationships when they felt their partners didn't understand them. But those who felt their partners could see their point of view—even if that didn't resolve the argument—actually felt more satisfied with their relationships after the fights.

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Revolutionary Road movie

“You’re not worth the trouble it would take to hit you! You’re not worth the powder it would take to blow you up. You are an empty, empty, hollow shell of a woman.”

“Feeling understood, regardless of whether it's grounded in reality, can be enormously good for general well being,” Serena Chen, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and a co-author of the paper, told Quartz. “Conveying that you understand but don't agree can go a long way. We know this, but we don't often do it.”

Revolutionary Road movie

“You’re not worth the trouble it would take to hit you! You’re not worth the powder it would take to blow you up. You are an empty, empty, hollow shell of a woman.”

Let that be the lesson: You don't have to agree with your partner, but you should let them know that you get what they're saying. By simply saying “I get where you're coming from,” you will validate your partner's point of view. And this can have a snowball effect on your argument. They'll be more responsive to what you have to say and the tension is immediately diffused.

The
Key

Let your partner know that you hear what they’re saying and that you get where they’re coming from. Even if you don’t agree.

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