Two words that can help navigate conversations: “No comment.”

I’ve been thinking about how to honestly and appropriately respond to conversations in which I disagree with what is being said.

For instance,

      • I was talking with a friend who veered off into a controversial political issue. I guess he just assumed I agreed with his convictions on the topic, but I didn’t. Should I have jumped into the fray? If I don’t say something, he might assume my silence means I concur with his thoughts. But pushing back might lead to an argument.
      •  I was part of a conversation in which someone energetically shared about a certain topic, but her facts were wrong. Should I have corrected her?

In these and many other conversational situations, I’m trying to discipline myself to respond appropriately. There are several options.

      1. Sometimes I need to speak up and challenge what is being said, even if it leads to an uncomfortable conversation. I must be kind and tactful with my pushback but I should be straightforward in sharing my thoughts, even if it may produce an uneasiness or even tension. 
      2. At other times I should simply not respond. Sensing the larger purpose of the conversation, I might realize that the comments being made are not central to the overall thrust and direction of the conversation. Or, I may value the relationships of those involved so much that I should not push back because doing so might sully the relationships. 
      3. Or, (and here’s the trust of this post) I can say “No comment.”

“No comment” can mean several different things:

      • I don’t agree with what’s being said but I don’t want to get embroiled in a lengthy, potentially combative conversation.
      • I don’t have an opinion about the particular subject or scenario.
      • I don’t have time to pursue this topic right now.
      • For whatever reason, I want to stop this part of the conversation.
      • I do have a lot to say, but I don’t want to offend you.

So by saying “no comment” I’m actually commenting. 

What are your comments? (respond below)

14 Replies to “Two words that can help navigate conversations: “No comment.””

  1. Weigh all options of “responding”, while asking God to make the decision for you. One nice facet of being an octogenarian is a strong leaning toward contentment and some measure of passivity when given an option.

    1. Hi Pat, thanks for responding. I’m actually enjoying getting older. Hopefully, we’re also getting wiser. Don

  2. My favorite is “OK”. It acknowledges I heard what you said, but for whatever reasons I choose not to add anything to the conversation.

    1. Thanks, Bill, for responding. To use that term, one would have to be careful how you said “OK” because it may imply concurrence. Take care, Don.

  3. I did leave a comment BUT I had not joined the “blog” yet. 🫣 Now I have.
    So it’s floating around somewhere ~

  4. “No comment” is fine for politicians and celebrities but it seems cold when conversing with friends. I love the late Queen’s comment re Harry and Meghan “Accounts may vary.”
    One suggestion could be, “I think we may disagree on this subject and I value our time together too much to cause friction between us.”
    As you rightly say, if the other person is saying something morally outrageous we cannot remain quiet and give the impression we agree. If we want to give someone a chance to explain their view, we can ask what lead them to that conclusion. If a member of your family has been a victim of crime, you may have extreme views about retribution and punishment.

    1. Angela, thanks for responding. Only a Brit would come up with “accounts may vary.” I love it. I can tell you are a good conversationalists. Thanks for reading my posts. Don

  5. Thank you for today’s post brother Don. A ‘comment’ well-spoken is like “an apple of gold in a setting of silver”. Let the good Lord use it however He desires. (At that point we’ve done our part) Amen?

    1. Thanks, James, for taking the time to respond. I love that scripture. Choice sentences/responses can make a huge difference. Take care, Don.

  6. I think “No comment” is most often taken as “I disagree,” or in certain contexts, “I don’t know anything about it.”
    Your facial expressions and body language can make it clear which which meaning you are conveying. Either way, I think “No comment” is an excellent response, and one I want to remember when needed.

    1. Thanks, Mary, for taking the time to respond. You’re right, facial expressions and body language communicate a lot of subtle thoughts. Kind regards, Don.

  7. Recently, I was in a conversation with my youngest son. A comment was shared which led to a tense situation. At the time, some defensive pushback was played back on my part and quickly dropped to “not sully the relationship.” However, after much reflection I realized that a follow up invitation to sit and chat openly about his concerns would have been appropriate. Not shying away from the disagreeable encounters can lead to better understanding of each other and facilitate deeper conversations. There is a good book Tactics by Gregory Koukl I should review again. While it is a “game plan” for sharing you faith, it’s worth considering for all conversations.

    Thank you for sharing!!!

    1. Thanks, Carla, for taking the time to respond. I’ll check into the book by Kouk. Another good book on this topic is Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone. Difficult conversations make all of us stronger. Take care, Don.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *