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The best things to say in relationships (DW#432)

Over the last two weeks, we did a series of the "10 worst phrases you can say in relationships". We talked about how some words and phrases will annoy, upset and hurt others and are simply not helpful if we want to connect to others in a positive way. 

Now let’s do the opposite. Let us now explore and highlight the Best Phrases you can in say relationships. 

If we start incorporating and practicing these words and phrases in our interactions with our loved ones, we will likely see a positive change and a shift in the emotional climate of the relationship.

Today’s phrase is one that you may already be using: How was your day?

This simple daily ritual of greeting and reuniting with each other at the end of the day has the potential of improving our coping with external pressures and tensions and improving the long term health of our relationships. 

Of course, we need to ensure that when we are having this "stress-reducing conversation", we do it in a way...
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The top 10 worst things to say to your loved ones (DW#431)

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been exploring words and phrases that cause more harm than good in relationships.
 
While all of us might say some of these from time to time, we need to recognize that if we say them often enough, our relationships are sure to suffer.
 
So here is the "top 10" list of words and phrases to stay away from:
 
1.   "Just sayin’"
2.   "You always/you never"
3.   "You made me do it/ it’s your fault"
4.   "I’m sorry, but…"
5.   "With all due respect"
6.   "Fine, whatever"
7.   "I’ll talk to you when you can be more rational"
8.   "Not this again! Can’t you just drop it and move on?" 
9.   "If I were you . . ."
10.  "I told you so"

From tomorrow inshaAllah, we will start exploring the best things to say to your loved ones :) 
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I told you so (DW#430)

This phrase might just be in the running for the worst possible phrase or the least helpful thing that you can say if you want to build strong relationships. 

While yesterday’s phrase "If I were you" is usually said beforedisaster happens, "I told you so" is generally used after the advice is not heeded and ‘disaster’ ensues. 

"I told you so" can be said in many different ways, of course: 
I told you so. 
I knew this would happen. 
I could see this one coming
I could’ve told you this was coming. 
Can I tell you…I thought this might be the result?
I knew it!!
No surprise that this happened, is it? 

The reason it is so damaging to relationships is because we use it when the person on the receiving end is likely already feeling pretty bad about something that happened. And saying I told you so is guaranteed to make them feel worse even though it might make us feel superior and smug by reminding them how much they need our...

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If I were you . . . (DW#429)

Many of us love giving advice, thinking to ourselves: "I should really share the wealth of my knowledge, wisdom and experience – I am sure the recipient of my advice will be very grateful indeed". 

And then we get very confused when the advice is rejected or remains unheeded  . . .

Here’s the thing: one of the worst ways of giving advice is to start it with "If I were you  . . ." before we have finished this sentence, the person on the receiving end of this advice is saying to themselves:
But you are not me
My situation is different 
You just don’t understand 

And all that valuable advice that we so graciously shared has now gone to waste – sigh! Such a shame, no?

It turns out that of the many ways of giving advice, the most effective one is to simply share information about something. A study on this subject found that information advice was the most effective and the one most likely to be heeded. Information advice...

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Not this again! Can’t you just drop it... (DW#428)

Today’s phrase is another variation of blaming the other person for issues in the relationship. 

"Not this again!" can be said in many ways:
"Oh no, here we go again" - eye roll and heavy sigh included –
"You never let anything drop, do you?"
"Why do you make such a big deal about things that are not important?"
etc. etc. etc.

 

The message in each version is similar:

 

"Something is wrong with you that you cannot drop this issue – you have no grounds to be upset. I don’t see it as a big deal, I don’t respect what you have to say and I’m not willing to listen, communicate with you or change in any way. This issue is not important to me even though it matters to you. The problem is clearly you and not me".

 

As you can imagine, this message is more likely to damage the relationship rather than make the issue go away. It is likely to add fuel to the fire as when we are upset, we want to be listened to and heard, not told that we...
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I’ll talk to you when you can be rational (DW#427)

As we have discussed before, conflict is normal and even healthy in relationships. It is how we deal with the conflict rather than the absence of conflict that determines if the relationship is fulfilling or not. 

Even though conflict is normal, it can be unpleasant. When we are in the midst of an argument, it can trigger all sorts of strong emotions that make it difficult for us to have productive conversations. 

When we find ourselves triggered, it can be very helpful to take some time for ourselves to calm down so that we can get back to the conversation in a more helpful way. 

The key, though, is to take responsibility for our own emotional state rather than suggest that the other person is "not being rational"

A statement such as "I’ll talk to you when you can be rational" is guaranteed to make matters worse. It is a statement that is likely to inflict emotional injury and make the other person significantly angrier. 

So the...
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Fine whatever (DW#426)

Have you ever felt completely exasperated in your efforts to reach someone? To get them to understand your point of view? 

Ever felt so exasperated that you say: "fine, whatever" as a signal that you are giving up on this argument? As a signal that you are metaphorically throwing up your arms in resignation? 

While it is not realistic to agree on everything or even understand where the other person is coming from, it is important to keep talking about issues that mean something to you (or them). In the absence of continuing communication on important matters, misunderstanding and resentment is likely to grow in the relationship in the place of love and connection. 

In other words, if we say "fine, whatever" enough times we will find ourselves quitting on the whole relationship rather than just the argument at hand.

 

So the next time we feel defeated in an effort to be understood, let us be brave and remind ourselves that if the relationship is important to us, we...
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With all due respect (DW#425)

Almost always coupled with an insult or unsolicited advice, the phrase "with all due respect" is often used as way to say: "Prepare to be disrespected." "I’m going to say something now that will most likely offend you but since I have said "with all due respect" you cannot really complain".

Many people find this phrase so annoying that it regularly shows up on the lists of most disliked phrases.

So the next time you are going to disagree with someone or present your opinion which might be controversial or unpopular, start by acknowledging what others are saying and make sure you understand the various aspects of the discussion. You can then state your opinion in a respectful way without using the phrase "with all due respect".

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I’m sorry, but… (DW#424)

Today’s phrase is closely related to yesterdays one which was "You made me do it".

I’m sorry but . . .in this phrase we appear to be taking responsibility and saying sorry. However, the "but" in the apology negates everything that comes before it. The end purpose of such an apology is to effectively promote ourselves as the good guys and to blame someone else as the real responsible party.

Consider these examples:

I’m sorry Mummy yelled, but your behavior was so bad I had to do something to get your attention…

I’m sorry I laughed at you but you were looking kind of ridiculous . . 

I’m sorry I flirted with your best friend but you were ignoring me . .

I’m sorry but aren’t you being a bit too sensitive . . .

I’m sorry I forgot but you should have reminded me . . .

I’m sorry but can you see how the above are not apologies! 
A true apology does not contain the word "but". It is an unconditional apology which does not...

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You made me do it (DW#423)

objective productivity Jun 27, 2018

As human beings we mess up and make mistakes. Quite often. We sometimes behave badly with those who matter most to us. 

And when we are confronted about our poor behavior or judgment by a loved one, it feels uncomfortable and it is anxiety provoking. It can be tempting to deny our role in making someone upset by denying responsibility, or worse by blaming them for our own behavior. 

For those of us who are parents, our children can sometimes really push our buttons. We may lose it from time to time and get ashamed by our behavior. At this point, we say things like "You made mom/dad mad". "Look what you made me do". We may believe that we are hiding the fact that we fell short of our own values and we feel ashamed. But lets not kid ourselves. Our children can pick up on the fact that we are shirking responsibility. And the lesson they learn from this is NOT the one we want them to learn!

Similarly, in adult relationships which are abusive or severely distressed, there can...

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