When a disagreement arises between you and a loved one, how you choose to communicate your concerns to the other person plays a big role in how constructively or how destructively the disagreement is handled and if the issue brings the two of you closer or creates greater distance in the relationship. Take a look at four words that are best to avoid when communicating, as well as some options for more helpful words to substitute.
ALWAYS– The word always implies that a behavior is permanent, unchangeable and that there have been no exceptions to whatever you are accusing your partner of, and when you say they are always doing a certain behavior it does tend to come across like an accusation. Instead, try often, frequently or even usually. It allows your partner space to change, and that is the first step!
Ex: Instead of “You always avoid spending time with my family” try “It seems like you often prefer not to spend time with my family when they are around”.
NEVER– This is the same story as always. Never comes across as global, accusatory and unchangeable. Instead, try rarely or seldom.
Ex: Instead of, “You never help me with the laundry”, try “I feel like I rarely get help in doing the laundry”.
BUT– When a listener hears the word but, the tendency is to forget everything that preceded the but, regardless of how positive or warm it was. Instead, try replacing it with the word and. And is usually more accurate in describing what you may be trying to communicate anyhow!
Ex- Instead of “I love you but I am so angry I don’t want to be around you right now”, try “I love you and I am so angry I need to take some space right now”.
– You can seem difficult and tricky to completely avoid in conversation. The main point here is to avoid making “you statements” or blaming statements rather than using “I statements” in which you speak for yourself rather than assigning meaning to your partner’s actions.
Ex- Instead of “You obviously don’t care about me” try “I don’t feel cared about when I am ignored”.