Does that person whose communication drives you crazy have poor communication skills, or character flaws? The best phrases in the world won't help people who use power plays or manipulation to build collaborative communication. Yes, they'll win a few battles, but at what price? Even those who give in know on some level they've been played.
I'm not just talking about the bullies here. I'm talking about the victims, too. The ones who act powerless to get what they want. It doesn't feel any better to recognize that you can't have an authentic conversation because the person on the other end collapsed into helplessness than to recognize that you can't have an authentic conversation because the person on the other end rallied into power plays.
If you're having trouble getting to clarity for either reason, ask - is it a communication issue? Or a character issue?
You don't need to put them on the couch and analyze them. Don't play therapist or clergy. Just examine your own character and decide that you won't let manipulation and power plays determine outcome. Reaffirm your commitment to authentic communication and keep refocusing the conversation to the essence. Show that your commitment to being fact-based and truthful is stronger than theirs to manipulate. Some will go away - but others will show up. A phrase I like because it's genuine and powerful is,
- I'm having this conversation because I want to be able to relate to you on an authentic level. It would be easier for me to ignore it when your words don't ring true - but that would keep us on the surface. I'm not willing to do that.