In conversation, we easily fall into habitual speech patterns without realizing the subliminal affect our words might have on another person. We can put up barriers without realizing it. Just because everyone around uses a phrase, doesn't mean it's something positive to say.
Here are 5 sayings to avoid:
1. Calm Down.
"Calm down" minimizes the distress of the other person because it's a directive to squelch their emotions on command. When someone is in a life-threatening situation and must control their emotions in order to survive, this might be warranted, but how often does that happen? This knee-jerk response of "Calm down," puts a barrier between you and someone in distress. If you genuinely want to help that person into a more peaceful state, calm your own emotions first, then say, "I'm here for you. Let's take a breath and see what we can do."
2. I know.
Remember the teenage frustration of having someone tell you something that's old news? Responding with "I know" also implied "Leave me alone." Most of the time we don't consciously think of these words in this way, but the emotional tag lingers on. "I know" shuts off the energy arc between you. Keep the connection open with receptive words like, "I believe you."
Unless you're receiving orders from a superior and have no choices, saying yes when you want to say no is a slippery slope to trouble. Peer pressure makes saying no difficult at times, but do yourself and everyone else a favor by being honest. An unwilling yes brings up negative emotions within you and creates a barrier between you and the person making the request. Instead say, "That doesn't work for me this time" and feel the relief. It really is all right to just say no.
4. You can't.
Stepping on someone else's dream does tremendous damage, both short term and long term. When a friend recently told me, "I'm going to build a treehouse and live in it during the summers." My first thought was, Wow. That's extreme. But, who am I to make that call? If someone is inspired to step out and make their dream happen, that's their journey. Whether they achieve it or not, they will learn many valuable lessons along the way. Instead say, "Good for you!" and mean it.
5. It's going to be okay.
In the movies, we hear this tired expression over and over again. Whether it's a missing child, a dark diagnosis, a life that's in chaos—lame platitudes don't help. Making projections based on blind optimism becomes a distancing statement that disconnects you from that person's valid fear and pain. How can you possibly know how things will turn out? No one can. Instead say, "I'm here for you," and feel the lift of supportive energy that connects you.
Creating and maintaining genuine connection hinges on the words we speak. Make a conscious decision to improve your word choices and watch your relationships deepen. Whether you're talking to a colleague, networking at a business event, or comforting a family member—small changes will make big changes in your life when you speak with openhearted words.