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Eat My Words

As you have likely realized, I am intrigued by a number of interesting metaphors that relate to conflict. Last week was about “biting our tongues” and this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog is about “eating our words”!

One explanation of this expression is “To regret or retract what one has said”. This phrase often arises after a conflict when we are aware we have said something that contributed adversely to the conversation. Typically, we want to take back what we said, knowing we have already caused hurt and unnecessarily escalated the dispute.

The image of “eating our words” is a strange one when you think about it – letters being consumed and swallowed! It is not likely that we digest them well!!

I suggest that you consider a dispute you were in in which you wish you could have “eaten your words” – taking back what was said – when answering the following questions:

  • What was the situation about?
  • What did you say that you wish you hadn’t?
  • What specific words would you like to take back?
  • What precluded you from withholding what you said?
  • What else might have precluded you from finding other ways to express your words?
  • What was the impact on the other person of the words you used?
  • What was the impact on you of using those words?
  • What would make it especially hard for you to digest the words you wish you hadn’t said (if you were to eat your words)?
  • What words might you have used to express yourself instead of the ones you would now eat?
  • How might you stop yourself in a future dispute from being in a position where you could eat your words afterwards?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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