Words We Could All Say Less (and More)
By: Elizabeth Lewis
As we all know, words are powerful. They can build someone up (or tear them down). Sometimes we don’t realize how our words effect others. Here is a list of things we could say less (or not at all)….
- Why are you still single?
Even though this might be a compliment as to what a beautiful woman or handsome man you are; one who seems to have it altogether…. This has a bit of judgement in the question…. as if to say you’re only whole and happy if you’re married.
- You look great. Have you lost weight?
Women (and some men) already have troubles with their body images…. This confirms that looking great = losing weight. Perhaps stop at “Your look great” and let them tell you if they’ve lost weight.
- She is crazy!
This is yet another overused label (like player, narcissistic, etc). Perhaps the person has some deep emotional issues and/ or the person saying it has had a negative interaction with them. Crazy to you might be normal to someone else.
- After this meal, I’m going to get serious about my eating! How many times have you heard (said) that? It’s as if by saying this, gives us permission to continue our old/ bad eating habits, in which we already struggle.
- No one ever said life was fair or easy
When someone is struggling with an issue, saying this won’t pep them up and suddenly make them feel better. They more than likely just need you to listen to them.
- If you need anything- just call me DAY or NIGHT
Usually this is after something bad has happened (surgery, death, etc). The likelihood of them actually picking up the phone to call you (at any time) to ask you for a meal or a ride, is slim. How about calling and saying, “If it suits, I’d love to bring you dinner either Mon. or Tues.” They’d be more apt to saying yes.
- It’s your own fault
Well, that might be true. Every behavior has a consequence. But pointing a finger and laying down the blame (and maybe shame) won’t make the other feel better (adult or child). How about saying, “What did you learn from this?”
- It could always be worse
When something bad happens, yes, someone else’s situation might be worse in comparison, but, at the time, it’s happening to them. Empathy is what is needed. This person needs you to pick up his/ her lens and look through it from their perspective. Not compare their situation to someone else’s misfortune.
- God just needed another angel in Heaven
Really? God needed a 3 year old girl or a 30 year old new daddy? Death is a tough one for any of us because no one really knows WHAT to say and we all want to say something! The best thing to do in this situation- is say nothing but BE present. Just be with this mourning person and hug/hold/listen/cry, etc with them.
Now…… what could we say more often????
- You look ______
(fill in the blank with healthy, happy, at peace) This will be taken as a compliment and they may share why this is so OR they’ll immediately put themselves down, “Oh I’m really a mess…….” You say, “Hey, I think you look ______.”
- It’s going to be OK. I’m here with you
More than anything else, when we are going through something troubling…. we want to know that we are not going to be alone.
- I’m not going anywhere
This is similar to #2 but children especially need to hear this. They need stability and need to know that they won’t be alone.
- How can I pray for you?
Everyone has an “issue” that can use prayer. So if you’re a praying person and are diligent about praying, people will be happy to share their worries/ sorrows.
5. I love to watch you __________
(play ____, read, interact with others, etc). Children and adults alike like to hear what you enjoy watching them do. You’ll bring a smile to their face.
6. What do you think?
When you ask someone their opinion, they feel worthy and valued. Everyone likes to feel like what they think matters.
7. I love you
Who doesn’t like hearing these powerful 3 words? We need more love in the world, not only in words but through our actions. We need to continue finding better ways to love (romantically, friendships, family and most importantly- ourselves).