Words to avoid

Avoid absolute words – that have no exceptions. These are usually said to make a point, usually exaggerated.  And usually comes off as negative.

none | all | noone | never | always | everyone | ever | must | only | no | not | just

You may think that this statement gives an easy-going impression and avoids rocking the boat; in reality it gives an unclear message and causes confusion.

Rather say,
“I am good either way.”
“I don’t have a preference.”

Should is one of the most judgmental words you can use. Telling people what they should or shouldn’t do, say, or think makes you the judge and ruler of their thoughts and decisions.

Instead of “She should have called…” say, “I wish she had called.”

Your instinct may be to avoid conflict by bowing out early.  You should be tackling problems together; that is part of being in a solid relationship.

Rather say, 
“Let’s talk this through.” 

“I hear your perspective. I think it might work.”

This sends the message that your partner’s perspective isn’t valid.

Instead,
Acknowledge something your partner has said that you do agree with; then add your own perspective by saying, “…and here’s another way to look at it.”

It’s a very passive-aggressive way of making a point, and it doesn’t clearly get to the issue.

Instead,
Explain your point of view honestly to keep the lines of communication open.

It isn’t fair to your relationship or your spouse to shut down the discussion.

Instead,
Ask for a temporary time-out. “I need the opportunity to step back and process it a little bit. I promise I’ll get back to it. I promise I’m not leaving in a huff.’

This belittles the listener.

Instead,
Be quiet.

This invalidates the listener’s feelings. It certainly is not an apology.

Rather say,
“I do apologize for doing [whatever it is you did], I can see it upset you.  I did not intend to do that. Help me understand what went wrong here.”

This questions the listener’s sensitivities and invalidates his/ her feelings.

Rather say,
“Please walk me through what is so upsetting to you.”

This implies that this happens often, and somehow it someone else’s fault.

Instead, find the humor in it.

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