BONUS

10 Power Words
and Phrases

A power word is a word or phrase that’s persuasive enough to evoke an emotional response. Writers use power words all the time to persuade their listener into a feeling — be it love, fear, encouragement, or whatever emotion they want to evoke.   

 

Our power words are designed to help you evoke a few emotions (both in him and in yourself):

 

  • Respect:  for yourself, your decisions, and the timing of them.  

  • Confidence:  whether you feel it at this moment or not.  

  • Levelheadedness:  so you appear cool, in control, and reasonable. 

 

POWER WORD 1

“Open”

WHY IT'S POWERFUL
 

You don’t agree with everything (or anything) he’s saying, but you don’t want to shut the conversation down entirely. Maybe you want to seem reasonable without giving in to something you don’t want to do. Being “open” doesn't make you weak. It makes you thoughtful and in control.

HOW YOU CAN USE IT
 

  1. I’m open to discussing a change to the schedule, but not until this summer.   
     

  2. I’m open to considering your offer, but I need more information first. 
     

  3. If you’d stop bringing it up in front of the kids, I’d be more open to discussing it with you.

 

POWER WORD 2

“Why”

Alternate versions: Why do you ask? 
Why do you feel that way? Why do you think that’s best?

WHY IT'S POWERFUL 
 

Asking “why” shifts the focus off you and puts it onto the listener. It gives you more time to think.  It also gives you more information, which you might want in order to decide how you want to respond.

HOW YOU CAN USE IT
 

  1. Why do you think Dr. Buckner is a better choice than Dr. Posey?
     

  2. Why do you want to have the kids 50/50 instead of them living with me? 
     

  3. Why do you ask if I’m dating?

 

OUR TOP 10 POWER WORDS

POWER WORD 3

“Willing”

WHY IT'S POWERFUL
 

Willing is a lot like “open.”  But if you’re concerned your spouse will take a mile if you give an inch, be sparing in your use of both willing and open. Willing does not mean “definitely will” as long as you use it with a caveat. 

HOW YOU CAN USE IT
 

  1. I might be willing to let her go on the camping trip, but only if I know the parents who will be chaperoning. 
     

  2. I’m willing to sell the house but only if you agree I’ll get the first $50K of the proceeds.

 

POWER WORD 4

“No”

WHY IT'S POWERFUL 
 

The word no may be the most powerful of them all, but it’s got to be used in the right way. If you say no all the time then change your mind, it’s like telling your toddler she can’t have dessert but giving it to her when she keeps whining. But if you use the word no only when you’ve carefully considered the request, and you’re not going back, it can be so powerful. It lets the other person know exactly where you stand.

HOW YOU CAN USE IT
 

  1. If his “final” alimony offer is unacceptable and you’re asked if you’ll accept it.“No.” 
     

  2. If he’s asked you to do something and you’ve already given a perfectly reasonable explanation for your decision, when you’re asked again, just say “No.”

 

POWER WORD 5

“Not now”

WHY IT'S POWERFUL
 

Not now is no’s 2nd cousin. As it implies, it’s less permanent.  Use it when you’re at a “no” right now, but want to be able to reconsider later.

HOW YOU CAN USE IT
 

  1. When asked if you’ll accept his offer at mediation.“Not today.” (You may need more time to think or more information.) 
     

  2. When he asks you to revise your custody schedule. “I’m not ok with doing that right now.” 
     

  3. Be prepared to explain what you need or when you might have another answer.  “I’m not ok with that now. I want to see how the kids do the rest of this school year before I consider making any changes to their routine.” 

 
DIGC_PowerWords_Body.jpg

Think of power words as your bank of “I’m on base” safe words and phrases.  You can incorporate them into almost any difficult conversation to evoke the feeling you want.

POWER WORD 6

“Thank you”

WHY IT'S POWERFUL
 

It shows good manners. It’s respectful.
No matter how you feel about your ex, if he does something that warrants thanking him, then do it. It’s sort of like working out; it’s unlikely you’ll regret doing it.

HOW YOU CAN USE IT
 

  1. When he offers to watch the kids so you can go to your work event.
     

  2. When he improves his settlement offer in negotiating your divorce, even if you’re not going to accept it. 
     

  3. When he wishes you happy birthday in the middle of your divorce.

 

POWER WORD 7

“Decide”

WHY IT'S POWERFUL 
 

It shows you are in control of your own choices, and won’t be forced or pressured into something. It also recognizes the other person’s request of you and shows contemplation.

HOW YOU CAN USE IT
 

  1. I’m thinking about your settlement offer. When I decide, I’ll let you know.
     

  2. I received your input about which orthodontist you prefer.  I’ll decide by the end of the week.

 

POWER WORD 8 

“Together”  

WHY IT'S POWERFUL
 

It shows you respect not only yourself but him — especially when you’re co-parents. It sends a message that he might consider changing his tune, without sounding offensive. It makes you look incredibly reasonable, which can be very important if you’re going through a custody battle (or could in the future).

HOW YOU CAN USE IT
 

  1. I want to work together to find a solution. 
     

  2. We need to put our differences aside, and make a decision about what’s best for Harrison together.

 

POWER WORD 9 

“Uncomfortable”  

Alternate versions: Not comfortable.

WHY IT'S POWERFUL
 

Everyone has felt uncomfortable. And often when you’re talking to someone who feels uncomfortable, you make it your job to help them feel more comfortable.  Expressing that you feel uncomfortable about something can open the door to solutions that you didn’t know existed.

HOW YOU CAN USE IT
 

  1. I want to settle. But I feel really uncomfortable about the amount of alimony you’ve offered.
     

  2. I’m not comfortable with the children staying at your parents when you’re not there. What other alternatives are there? 

 

POWER WORD 10 

“Help”

WHY IT'S POWERFUL 
 

Asking for someone’s help is disarming. Even in divorce, we’ve seen many spouses maintain a sense of loyalty or duty, and look for a way to help when asked. Asking for help can be great when you’re negotiating finances or trying to better co-parent. But ask from a genuine place; it won’t work if you can’t actually cultivate the feeling.  

HOW YOU CAN USE IT
 

  1. I want to be self-sufficient. But I need some help from you financially for the next couple of years so I can get there. 
     

  2. Payton thinks we hate each other. It’s really hurting her.  Can you help me change her perception?

 

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