In a difficult conversation, when I’m considering saying something controversial, I find that it really helps to preface it with three magic words: “My story is…” This allows me to express my perspective while simultaneously owning it. Owning my perspective creates space for the other person to have their own perspective (which may be different than mine).
On the receiving end, I feel a lot more relaxed when the other person prefaces their controversial perspectives with these three words, too. In doing so, they acknowledge that they may have a different perspective—a different “story” than me.
If I don’t own my perspective—for instance, if I simply state my opinions—the other person is likely to experience my words as an intrusive claim to “the truth”—a grab for power. Then, their options are either to express their perspective or to be silent. If they are silent, it makes it sound like they are agreeing with my story. So, expressing my perspective without owning it is more likely to lead toward hostile debate than toward respectful dialogue.