I’m a guy with guy friends. That means I am gonna get a lot of smack talk from them. Some of it is friendly, some not always so much.

I play poker a lot. That means I am definitely going to get a lot of smack talk coming my way. Some of it is friendly, most of it is actual ribbing with the intent of putting me on emotional edge so that I make bad decisions.

I have 10 siblings. Since four of those are bothers, and some of my sisters are like brothers to me… You guessed it. Smack talk, smack talk, smack talk. Of course, with our decades-long history together, there is a good chance there is always a little deeply rooted pep in the verbal punch.

I also have a group of close-knit couple or ex-couple friends, and are groups of friends ever real friends without all the zings and the jabs at each other?

I have sixty-something first cousins. I have old classmates on Facebook. I have neighbors and past neighbors that I hang out with. I have the people I date, the people I have dated, as well as their friends and family. I have ex in-laws I still know and love, and I have current in-laws I still know and love.

And, of course, there are the total strangers I come across, friendly or douchey, and the verbal gauntlet we all must run through there from time to time (as you know) can be overwhelming.

I’ve got a couple million followers, and even though people on the internet rarely voice their opinions about anyone else, I must confess that it does happen from time to time.

ZING. JAB. BAM. SLAM. BAM. VERBAL ANYTHING GOES, THANK YOU M’AM.

Life without the smack talk and the shit talk would be a lot less interesting, that’s for sure. We all have these egos, whether we like it or not, and sometimes it’s fun to let them out to play at least a little bit. I do enjoy watching other people’s egos come out to play. When everything is perfectly positive and kumbaya all the time, the world becomes far more drab.

Anyways, I have this little trick that works really well to shut up any shit talker dead in his or her tracks. It’s just two little words and only two little words…

“That’s fair.”

It doesn’t matter if the verbal jabs are made with ill intent or if they’re steeped with affection, I have experimented a lot over the last few years, and those two words are winners. Nobody really ever has any response to it except to stop talking or to laugh.

If a friend makes fun of the size of my penis, for example, I could do what most guys do and start word vomiting all over the place. “Nuh uh, it’s the size of a redwood, bro. Yours is the small one.” Or… I could use my little tactic, and shut them right up. “That’s fair.”

Or maybe one of my sisters starts smack talking me about my inability to hang-on to a woman… I could do what I used to do, and start retaliating or explaining just how hard love is for some of us, or… I could use my little tactic and shut her right up. “That’s fair.

If someone calls me crazy… “That’s fair.”

If someone tells me I suck at driving… “That’s fair.”

If someone tells me my breath stinks… “That’s fair.”

If someone tells me I’m an asshole or a jerkapotomus… “That’s fair.”

If someone tells me that I’m the last person on Earth they’d ever wanna bang… “That’s fair.”

If someone calls me the worst poker player on Earth and tells me their three-year-old son could run better bluffs than me… “That’s fair.”

If someone tells me they could develop weapons of mass destruction from my flatulations… “That’s fair.”

If someone looks me dead in the eyes and very seriously tells me I have no soul and I deserve to rot in hell… “That’s fair.”

Yep. “That’s fair.”

Nobody ever has a good response when I say it, and even when they try to come back with something, I just repeat it. Nobody ever tries twice.

Why does it work?

I don’t know, for sure, but if I had to guess… It’s because people only zing and jab each other with shit talk and verbal sparring when they are attempting to achieve the following:

  • get under the other person’s skin
  • illicit an emotional reaction
  • hurt the other person’s feelings

When you reply with, “that’s fair,” what more can really be said?

Saying “that’s fair” and leaving it at that completely disarms the other person. It’s as if they just held up the proverbial shit talking gun, pulled the trigger, and got nothing but a click.

I’ve used this trick so long that my siblings joke they’re just going to put the words, “that’s fair” on my tombstone…

Well, that’s fair.

Dan Pearce | The Single Dad Laughing Blog