Here’s one of the most important phrases we can learn in marriage: That’s a good point. If you’re wondering how to respond to this claim, might I suggest, “That’s a good point”? See how easy it is. You don’t have to like what’s said; you just need to acknowledge it as having good to it, which is easy when there is good in all things. This phrase is so simple and powerful, yet it’s a phrase that doesn’t get a lot of attention. How many fights could be avoided if we simply said, “That’s a good point”? Instead, when someone brings up an idea that’s different than ours or we’re accused of something, we get defensive. Defensive behavior can be lashing out (i.e. the best defence is a good offence), shutting down and basically going into an emotional fetal position, or we feel the need to explain our side to someone who is not in the mood to listen. Another bad option is to say “Fine,” or “Okay,” because this isn’t said like “I’m fine and dandy,” but more “I’m going to drop your toothbrush in the toilet.” This has a more passive aggressive tone, which never leaves the other person feeling heard and cared about; it’s more, “Watch your back.”
Sometimes, “That’s a good point” isn’t the best option. For instance, if one person keeps repeating the same statement over and over like “Keep the bathroom door closed,” because your one year old loves to play in the toilet, you shouldn’t keep saying, “That’s a good point.” (I can’t imagine where I got this example from.) After using the response once, you need to change it up. I personally go with gritting my teeth and saying nothing because anything I say isn’t going to be nice: “I’m so glad you can remind me over and over like I’m a child. When you left the door open yesterday, I didn’t remind you because I know you already knew the rule of keeping the door closed and you simply made a mistake. I love that you think I’m too dumb to know this and have to remind me. ” When people repeat the rule over and over (aka nagging), they’re likely saying it because it makes them feel better, so it’s best to gently accept it, especially because they’re likely annoyed with you and any comment could trigger a worse emotion.
Saying, “That’s a good point,” is normally a great phrase because it’s like when you ask a question and the other person responds, “That’s a good question.” I know some people will say “That’s a good question,” because it can sometimes be a stall tactic as they try to figure out the answer, but it still feels like a compliment: (me) “Take as long as you want to answer; I feel good about myself.” Both of these are great phrases to have in our back pocket for conversations because they’re positive and help the other person feel understood and valued.
Both “That’s a good point,” and “That’s a good question,” follow a lesson I’ve mentioned a couple of times before: Yes and. In improv, actors are taught to say “Yes and” to whatever they’re given by their partner. “No” is pretty much forbidden and “but” is supposed to be used sparingly because actors need to be pushing the scene forward. No matter how crazy what your partner says is, in improv, we’re supposed to go with it, which takes the scene to places that can be a lot of fun for the audience. We need to be doing the same thing in conversation, especially with our partners – Yes and.
Maybe you’re like me and it’s difficult finding a time to use this because your partner will say something like “It feels…” followed by a crazy statement that doesn’t make any sense, and potentially dangerous. These crazy statements are important to the speaker because they give “feelings” more credit than they should. I regularly teach that feelings are a gift from God, but when I say this, I’m referring to actual feelings like anger or guilt. When people say things like “It feels…” they’re connecting it more to their gut feeling. I’m a big believer in intuition, especially after reading Blink: The Power of thinking without thinking by Malcolm Gladwell, but this isn’t even real gut feelings. This person it listening to foolish lies their brain is telling them. For instance, the other week my wife accidentally bought food we already had lots of so she decided to give it to a friend. When she came home, she was beating herself up for doing something nice because “It feels like I did something wrong.” In this situation, I didn’t say, “That’s a good point,” because that was a blatant lie she was listening to, and it was a very dangerous one at that. In this case, I gently corrected her with questions and kind logic (emphasis on kind). She thanked me for helping her… that’s a rare moment.
Another time she said, “It feels like I’ll never be comfortable inviting people to our house because the neighborhood is so bad.” My opinion is this statement is in that dangerous category, but my wife saw it differently – oops. To her, I should’ve said, “That’s a good point.” To me, her thinking is based on a lie in her head as we’ve lived in our house for six years without anything dangerous happening as the average age of our neighbors is one foot in the grave. I’m yet to hear of the Denture Devils or Hells Grandparents unless paramedics being called to your house is their calling card. Our neighbors’ houses might not be fancied up, but they’re loved and we are very safe… except from maybe crooked salesmen canvassing our area looking for a gullible senior.
In a situation like this, I would’ve been better off saying, “I’ve never thought of that before,” because “That’s a good point,” wasn’t appropriate for me. “I’ve never thought of that before,” also follows the “Yes and” rule. Instead, by correcting her where she clearly didn’t agree with me, our conversation was less than ideal because of my not using a “Yes and”; thus proving even this therapist has some room to improve.
This week may you consider the phrases “That’s a good point,” “That’s a good question,” and “I’ve never thought of that before,” as a way to encourage others feeling understood and loved.”
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)