A Small Change to STOP Making Others Defensive

Simple phrase that diffuses potential conflict

A turn from defensive

I walked into the hallway and said to her, “Baby, you’ll need to do the stairs, there’s dog hair on them.” This was after she’d already put the vacuum away, thinking she was done with her daily chore.

I might have heard, “I know!!” from her lips or spotted a complimentary eye-roll for no extra cost. But the words that spewed forth from her lips completely surprised and delighted me: “You are so right!” she said cheerfully.

I smiled. And I knew she’d take care of it.

We recently had a discussion in our house with those who live here.

You know, the ones that think they know?

Think they know everything?

To their defense, it’s really not their fault.  Their frontal lobes are not fully developed – that is the part of the brain that deals with common sense. So they really DO think they know.


Words Make a Difference

But I don’t particularly enjoy the phrase, “I know!” in response to a request or a reminder. I find it somewhat disrespectful, actually.

And it makes me defensive – even causes defensiveness in others, which we’ve learned is a BAD THING for relationships, or so says the research.

But the phrase, “You are right” brings positives to relationship, and is a balm that can easily diffuse a potential conflict – especially (in the case above) if followed through with action.

Push the reset button

Recently we had a discussion about how we can represent Christ to each other. We talked about how hard it is to love those we’re closest to – and how sometimes we get lazy or take each other for granted. I shared with them that there is a difference between the word, “submit” and the word, “obey.”

I let them know that wives are called to submit to their husbands – and that submission is a “willing placing under” of one person under another. The other word, “obey” means that the subordinates have to do what the bosses say.  And it is NOT in reference to wives and husbands – nor is it optional.

I reminded them that the Word tells us to work at not to be exasperating to our kids (Ephesians 6:4), and it tells the kids that they have to obey their parents (in the Lord) because this is right. (Ephesians 6:1, if you are interested)

And then I asked them what the difference between a child and a man was.

“Being able to live independently,” was the general sense of their responses.

I agreed completely. Although I think there actually is more… but for now, that was good enough to make the point.

And then we talked about what a difference there is in a responses to a simple request – the words, “I know” versus, “You are right.”

Both can speak a truth, but one speaks to the arrogance of the speaker, and the other speaks respect to the other. And before you tell me the same applies to kids and adults alike, know I think you are right. Respect should be dished mutually – and sometimes we all need a little help with that.

And what made me laugh this Sunday was the comics – Jump Start dealt with the topic!  They had their own reasons for dealing with the phrase, “I know.”

daily life dog


At any rate, this discussion leads me to another – how much in our life would be better if we would simply change our communication – but alas, this is not easy.

And long-term, it’s not even possible.

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.   Matthew 15:18-19

The good news is that sometimes behavior leads heart change, and sometimes it’s the other way around, but if you are choosing to follow Christ, He’ll transform your heart regardless.

So today, I’m going to suggest a small change for us all – because we want to be respectful people.

Instead of retorting with an, “I know!” response, instead say, “You are right.”

Kindly, gently, strength-and-dignity-style.

See if that doesn’t help your relationships. And in the meantime, pray that Jesus transform us all into His likeness.

I hope you know you are officially invited to join us in the journey – subscribe over on the right – we’ll never give your email to anyone, ever. :)

If you are parenting, you should totally follow Debbie if you have tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings. . I’m also active on Twitter as @NinaRoesner.  Come join the discussion!

Love to you,



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