You always/you never (DW#422)

When we are in the midst of conflict, it seems that the other person is consistently annoying – they are always late – they never keep their word – they are always grumpy – they never pick up after themselves – they never listen to us – they always have the last say etc etc etc. 

By sharing the ways that they always or never do certain things, we are trying to build a solid case of how we are being let down. 

The problem with using generalizations like always and never is that they are seldom accurate. People are just not that consistent. There will always be times when they are not what we are accusing them of. 

Moreover, the minute they hear always or never in an accusatory tone, their mind becomes super busy trying to find exceptions to our case against them. Once they find even a single exception (and they generally do!), they will do their best to prove us wrong, our case is destroyed and we have lost the argument, so to speak. 

So let us try this instead:

Let us be specific about what is bothering us and give recent examples rather than using always or never. And we can make specific requests for what we would like rather than focusing on what we don’t want. 

For example:
‘I felt hurt and disregarded yesterday when I asked you to pick up your things before our company arrived and you didn’t. Next time we have guests; I’d really appreciate the help.’

‘When you turn to your phone before I have finished my sentence, it seems to me that you do not care to listen to what I am saying. Please look at me when I am speaking so that I know you are listening.’

‘I would really appreciate it if you would ask me how my day was when you come home’.

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