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· I don’t want to start an argument, but I think you were flirting an awful lot at that party.
· I don’t want to start a fight here, but could you let me finish my sentences for a change?
If you know what you are going to say is likely to cause an argument, why are you saying it? Do you really think that saying “I don’t want to start an argument is actually going to prevent one? Just asking.
Three problems here. First, when you start a conversation with this phrase the other person tends to get angry and defensive, even before you’ve completed your sentence. While you MAY intend it to be a way of avoiding an argument, it often does the opposite.
Second, there’s the use of BUT People don’t respond well to the insertion of the BUT, because, again, as soon as they hear it, they know a heavy, unpleasant “other shoe” is going to drop on their heads.
Third, whatever comes after the BUT, the “other shoe” is always negative, and often phrased as an attack, so it makes things even worse.
Make It Better:
· Joan, I’m not sure how you look at it, but I felt funny at the party because it looked to me like you were awfully flirty. Can we talk about it?
· John, it’s hard for me to talk with you when you interrupt me before I finish my sentence, and I lose my train of thought. Could you try to let me finish, and then I’ll listen to you?