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Imperfect Phrases For Relationships: 101 COMMON Things You Should Never Say To Someone Important To You... And What To Say Instead (ImPerfect Phrases Series)
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Imperfect Phrases For Relationships: 101 COMMON Things You Should Never Say To Someone Important To You... And What To Say Instead (ImPerfect Phrases Series)

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Because human beings learn to use language as children, we're ALL prone to communication and conflict mistakes as adults. We say the wrong things. We send messages we don't intent to send. We get ...

Because human beings learn to use language as children, we're ALL prone to communication and conflict mistakes as adults. We say the wrong things. We send messages we don't intent to send. We get reactions that both surpise us and cause grief for ourselves. Worse, though, our ineffective language habits damage our relationships with spouses, children, other family members, friends and at work with colleagues and "superiors". Sometimes the damage is minor. Sometimes relationships founder on the rocks of consistently bad ways of talking. Regardless if you find yourself in unnecessary arguments, or unable to solve sticky and persistent issues in your marriage, dating relationships and family, here's a solution.

Imperfect Phrases For Relationships: 101 COMMON Things You Should Never Say To Someone Important To You...And What To Say Instead is a unique, practical and hands-on book that will teach you what NOT to say, and how to replace "imperfect phrase" (ones that harm relationships), with effective phrases. Rather than deluging you with theories and principles, this book contains one hundred and one phrases to eliminate, and provides better options, so you no longer end up in arguments that waste time and energy. It's compact, to the point, and you can start improving your relationships NOW

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Imperfect Phrases For Relationships: 101 COMMON Things You Should Never Say To Someone Important To You... And What To Say Instead (ImPerfect Phrases Series) Document Transcript

  • 1. Imperfect PhrasesFor Relationships101 COMMON Things YouShould Never Say To Some-one Important To You...And What To Say InsteadBy Robert Bacal
  • 2. iiMore Books By Robert Bacal Performance Management - ABriefcase Book Perfect Phrases for CustomerService The Manager’s Guide to Per-formance Reviews Perfect Phrases for Perform-ance Reviews How To Manage Perform-ance: 24 Lessons to Improv-ing Performance The Complete Book of PerfectPhrases Book for EffectiveManagers Perfect Phrases for SettingPerformance Goals Perfect Phrases For ManagingYour Small Business If It Wasn’t For The Custom-ers I’d Really Like This Job Conflict Prevention In TheWorkplace - Using Coopera-tive Communication Defusing Hostile CustomersWorkbook For The PublicSector Complete Idiots’ Guide ToConsulting (Out of Print) Complete Idiots’ Guide ToDealing With Difficult Peo-ple (Out of Print)BACAL & ASSOCIATES722 St. Isidore Rd.Casselman, Ontario, Canada, K0A 1M0(613) 764-0241Copyright © 2012 by Robert BacalThis book is available in printed form, in Adobe Acrobat Reader,and in other electronic formats, including the Kindle.All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole orin part.ISBN-13: 978-1-926840-04-8PDF VersionFor complete information about our books and publications, pleasevisit:http://bacalassociates.com
  • 3. iiiPreface—You ARE In This Book............... viiSection I — Introduction ............................ 1Chapter 1 — You ARE The Words You Use..... 3Chapter 2 — How To Use This Book............. 13Working On Your Own .............................. 15Working With Someone Else...................... 17And What About At Work?......................... 18Examples of Invitations ............................. 19Activities For Better LearningFor Teams, Groups, Families..................... 21Chapter 3 — Your Guiding Principles .......... 23It‟s The Presuppositions That Hurt ............ 23What YOU Intend Isn‟t Nearly AsImportant As What The OtherPerson HEARS ......................................... 27Eliminate “Less Than” Communication...... 27Eliminate “One Up — One Down” .............. 29Section II—The Imperfect Phrases .......... 331. And Another Thing….............................. 352. Are You Deaf? ........................................ 363. Are You Really Going To…...................... 374. Because Those Are The Rules................. 395. Can I Give You Some Constructive Criti-cism?..................................................... 416. Can You Get It Right This Time? ............ 437. Calm Down  .................................... 44
  • 4. iv8. Cheer Up!...............................................469. Do You Have Your Period?......................4710. Dont Cry................................................4811. Dont Do Me Any Favors .........................5012. Dont Take It So Seriously ......................5113. Dont Take This The Wrong Way,But… ..............................................5214. Dont You Realize…?...............................5415. Every Time We… .............................5516. Everyone Agrees With Me .......................5617. Get Off My Back .....................................5818. How Can You Say You Wont...? .............5919. How Many Times Have I Told You…........6120. How The Hell Should I Know ..................6221. I Definitely... ..........................................6322. I Dont Care….........................................6423. I Dont Make Those Kinds of Mistakes ....6524. I Dont Want To Start An Argument But..6625. I Give Up ............................................6726. I Told You So..........................................6927. I Tried That and Its A Waste of Time ......7028. If You Really…  ...................................7129. Im Doing My Best ..................................7330. Im Going To Prove To You That…...........7531. Im Not The Only One...EveryoneElse Thinks So ................................7632. Its All In Your Mind ...............................7833. Its None of Your Business......................8034. I Was Only Joking ..................................8135. I Will... If You Will...................................8336. Ive Told You A Hundred Times…............8437. Just Leave It, Ill Do It Myself..................8538. Just Forget About It. Its No Big Deal......8639. Lighten Up! ............................................8740. Listen To Yourself…................................8841. Most People Do It ...................................8942. Never Mind.............................................9043. No Problem. Im Used To Being DumpedOn… .....................................................91
  • 5. v44. No!......................................................... 9345. No, I Dont, Yes, You Do ......................... 9446. No One Ever Said Life Is Fair.................. 9647. Not Now!................................................ 9748. Nothing Is The Matter ............................ 9849. Nothing I Ever Do Is Good Enough....... 10050. Pull Yourself Together .......................... 10251. Relax ................................................... 10452. Should I Repeat This For TheFourth Time? ....................................... 10553. Snap Out Of It ..................................... 10654. Sorry, But…  .................................... 10755. Stop Being So Emotional  ................. 10956. Take It Or Leave It ............................... 11157. That Doesnt Make Any Sense .............. 11258. Thats Never Going To Work ................. 11359. Thats Just Your Opinion ..................... 11560. Thats Not True. I Saw It For Myself...... 11661. There Are A Lot of People Worse Off...... 11762. Typical. Just A Typical Male (or Female)Opinion ............................................... 11963. Wait Until… ......................................... 12064. We Could Have... If Youd… ................. 12165. We Have To Talk .................................. 12266. Whatever… ...................................... 12467. What Do You Want Me To Do About It? 12668. Whats Wrong With You?...................... 12769. When Are You Going ToStart (Looking For A Job) ..................... 12870. Who Do You Think You Are? ................ 12971. Why Cant You Be More Like…............. 13072. Why Dont You Talk To Me? ................. 13273. Why Do You Need To Know? ................ 13374. Why Is It Always Me That Has To… ..... 13475. Why Is This Such A Big Deal For You? . 13576. Why Should I Care? ............................ 13677. Why Should I Apologize, I Didnt Do Any-thing Wrong  .................................... 13778. Why Would I Be Upset, JustBecause… ........................................... 139
  • 6. vi79. Will You Be On Time This Time?...........14080. You Always… .......................................14181. You Aren‟t Listening .............................14282. You Can‟t… .........................................14483. You Dont Appreciate….........................14584. You Dont Know What You AreTalking About.......................................14685. You Drink Too Much ............................14786. You Knew I Was This Way WhenYou Met Me ..........................................14887. You Made Me Do It ...........................14988. You Make Me Feel Stupid .....................15189. You Never Asked ..................................15390. You Never… .........................................15591. You Should Talk..Youre [ ] Than I Am ..15692. You Shouldnt Feel That Way................15793. You Started It… ...................................15994. You Take Everything Too Seriously.......16095. You Tell Me ..........................................16196. Youll Be OK. Dont Worry About It .......16297. Youre Disrespecting Me .......................16398. You „re Not Being Logical ......................16499. Youre Just Like… ...............................165100. Youre Overreacting ..............................166101. Youre The Only One That ThinksThat, You Know....................................167Section III — Conclusions...................... 171What You‟ve Learned....................................171The Common Threads ..................................171The Ten Commandments of Perfect Phrases .172Well, We‟re Done...But You Are Not ..............173Our Support Website....................................174
  • 7. viiYou Are In This Book!You‟re human. You have relationships, at homeand at work that are important to you, whetherthey are with colleagues, and managers, or withfamily members. The quality of those relation-ships depends a lot on how you communicate,what you say, and how you say things.The challenge is that we are all human, andwe‟re all imperfect. We get upset. We say thingswe later regret. Sometimes we say things that,inadvertently make our relationships rocky, onlyfinding out when the other person reacts nega-tively to what we‟ve said. And sometimes, we‟resurprised when we get those responses.No matter how good you think you are at com-municating, no matter how much education andtraining you have had, and no matter how old youare, you make mistakes. And pay the price.We‟ve identified one hundred and one commonphrases people use that damage their relation-ships, and I guarantee you that you will findphrases in this book that you‟ve used, and proba-bly still use. This doesn‟t make you a bad person.It doesn‟t make you someone who doesn‟t careabout other people. It just means you are human— A human being who sometimes uses imperfectphrases. Make no mistake about it, though. Even
  • 8. viiithough we‟re all imperfect, and don‟t set out toharm relationships with those important to us, wecan‟t avoid the negative impact of these phrases.Every time you use one of the imperfect phrasesin this book, you chip away at the core of yourrelationships. You damage trust. You damagecredibility. You portray yourself in a negativelight. As a result you create arguments whennone are necessary. Bad feelings are created bothfor you, and the people around you. Thesephrases cause pain.The Solution:There IS a solution, and that‟s where this bookcomes in. It‟s simple. Once you know the 101toxic phrases in this book, and why they are dam-aging, you can start to REPLACE those phraseswith words that don‟t hurt, that invite discussionand dialogue rather than argument, and build thefoundation of your relationships instead of erod-ing it.Of course, success in relationships requiresmore than changing what you say, but you‟ll findthat by changing the words you use, you‟ll take amassive step towards building the relationshipsyou want.This book is a practical solution to help you withyour relationships. Each set of common imperfectphrases comes with an explanation of why thephrases are eroding your relationships, and moreimportantly, what to say instead.Is it easy to change what you say? To eliminatethe imperfect phrases from your vocabulary? Youbet. While you can read as many books as you
  • 9. ixlike, it‟s still up to you to apply what you‟velearned to the world around you. The benefits arehuge. But at least now, you have a tool, a guide,to help you identify the changes you need tomake.DedicationI‟d like to dedicate this book to Suzette Haden-Elgin, psycholinguist, science fiction author, anda whole lot more, who, many years ago, inspiredme to look at how people use language, throughher verbal self-defence books.DisclaimerThe contents of this books should never be usedto replace professional assistance — counselling,and services from psychologists and psychiatrists.The contents of this book work generally, butkeep in mind that each relationship is differentand unique. Phrases that are toxic in one rela-tionship may work well in another relationship, soyou MUST use your own judgment as to what willwork and not work in your particular relation-ship.
  • 10. x
  • 11. 1Chapter I: You ARE The Words You UseChapter II: Using This BookChapter III: Your Guiding Principles
  • 12. 2
  • 13. 3If you are interested in better relationships, athome and at work, you‟ve no doubt come across alot of the “advice” offered on how to create the re-lationships you want. After all it‟s important foryour personal life, and career to forge positive,peaceful and constructive relationships.Unfortunately, much of the advice is vague.You‟re told: Show the other person respect. OrListen carefully. Or, stay calm. It‟s impossible todisagree with vague advice, because...well, it‟s sovague, and so superficially sensible that no saneperson would object. It‟s all pretty useless and theworst part is you don‟t realize it‟s all pretty use-less.The problem is that vague advice focuses onideas or concepts — respect, caring, politeness, asif they mean the same thing to everyone. Theydon‟t. They are also removed from what reallycounts, your visible behavior. You can only beknown by what people can see, hear, touch...wellyou get the idea. So, you can‟t really have goodrelationships by “respecting” someone unlesssomeone comes along to help you figure out whatthat could mean and HOW you can show respectto your partner. Or how you can show you carefor the people around you.Vague suggestions tend to mislead. If you haveread other advice on how you can improve yourrelationships, was it specific enough for you tochange your behavior to something better? If notit‟s unlikely you received very little benefit. Youneed to know EXACTLY what to avoid saying, andjust as important, you need to know what to sayinstead. And that‟s the point of this book.Chapter 1 — You ARE The Words You Use
  • 14. 4WHAT You Say Is A Huge Piece of The Rela-tionship PuzzleThink about the concrete things that make orbreak relationships. Clearly, what you DO, theactions you take are important. Whether you dowhat you say you will do. Whether the non-verbals you use send a message of caring andcommitment, or the opposite.The WORDS that you use, phrases is the termwe use, are so important in building and main-taining relationships, because quite simply, we doso much talking. Talking is the way we learnabout each other, make commitments, and themain way we are known by other people. It makesno difference what‟s inside of us — positive feel-ings, let‟s say, if we bumble along, saying thingsthe wrong way.And all of us say things the wrong way, at leastsome of the time, because our language habitsare learned when we are too young to appreciatehow much the words and phrases count. We allhave bad language habits, and those habits causeus to blurt out things in ways that damage ourrelationships, at home and at work. The more up-set we are, the more emotional, the more likelywe‟ll fall back on the more child-like habits wehave.For example, have you ever heard two adultsarguing about “who started an argument”? Oroverheard someone say to another: “Chill out, youtake things too seriously”. Have YOU ever saidthese things? Chances are you have, and chancesare you‟ve used a number of words and phrasesthat make sense at the time, at least until comeout of your mouth. Then, you get the negative re-action you hadn‟t thought you would get. OOPS!Fortunately, relationships survive occasionalmistakes. If that wasn‟t the case, we‟d never pro-
  • 15. 5create and the species would have died out longago. Those mistakes, though, make relationshipsmuch rockier and challenging, as they create un-necessary friction and conflict that comes aboutONLY because of the words we use. Conflicts anddisagreements aren‟t always bad. We can learnfrom them. The exception is when the discussionsbecome focused on WHAT was said, and HOW itwas said rather than the real life issue.An ExampleJack and Suzanne have been a couple for tenyears or so. They have their disagreements andclashes, and in the past they‟ve managed to getthrough them. Now, however, they are facingsome financial difficulties, and Jack was laid offabout six months ago. The bank balance is drop-ping, and they‟re both scared. Here‟s a conversa-tion between the two of them.Suzanne: Jack, did you forget to transfer moneyinto our checking account? I heard from the bankthat our the check for the electricity bill bounced.Jack: I didn‟t forget. I did it like I always do it,every month. You must have spent the moneysomewhere else.Suzanne: I did not. How can you say that? I‟vebeen responsible about money, like, forever.Jack: Well, it‟s not my fault. You don‟t appreciatehow hard it is for me, not having a job.Suzanne: I DO appreciate it, but we have to paythe bills. When are you going to start looking for ajob?Jack: What the hell do you think I‟ve been doingevery day for the last four months…Suzanne: Well, how would I know. You hardlyever talk to me about your day anymore.Jack: You never ask.
  • 16. 6It‟s not going well for the couple, is it? This kindof conversation happens all the time, and it pointsout the power of words. There are no direct, in-tentional insults. No swearing and name calling.Jack and Suzanne care deeply about each other,yet this has become a common way for them tointeract. If they don‟t alter what they say to eachother, they will erode the trust and commitmentthat‟s gotten them through tough times before,and that WILL threaten the relationship.This conversation suffers from imperfectphrases, as both Suzanne and Jack make poorchoices in the words they use. You can see whathappens. At first, the issue is that a check hasbounced, and Suzanne asks Jack whether hetransferred the money to the correct account. Herchoice of words isn‟t very good. Jack reacts withmore imperfect phrases, and the original issue, asimple one, in fact, gets completely lost. Withintwo exchanges, the couple is arguing because ofthe imperfect phrases used. Not only are theyunlikely to solve the issue of the bounced check,they are creating a slew of negative emotions thatare both unpleasant and damaging to the longterm health of the relationship.An Example of “Better”We could go through the little dialogue and ana-lyse the heck out of it, but in keeping with thepractical orientation of this book, let‟s start at theother end. Let‟s see how small changes in thewords Jack and Suzanne used could change thisexchange completely.Suzanne: Jack, a funny thing happened today. Iwas told that our check to the electric companybounced. I know we have enough money to coverit, and I‟m at a loss as to what happened. Do youhave any ideas?
  • 17. 7Jack: No. I transferred the money from our sav-ings into our checking account like I always do.Suzanne: Was that on the 31st, like usual?Jack: Yup.Suzanne: Weird. Well, we should probably try totrack this down, since we‟ll have to pay the NSFfee to the bank.Jack: OK. Hey, I know. Let‟s use our online bank-ing to check the transactions and bank balances.That‟s what they do. Here‟s the conversation,resumed in front of their computer.Jack: Hmm...I don‟t see any record here of thetransfer to the checking account, and I‟m sure I didthe transfer.Suzanne: Do you think something happened atthe bank and the transfer didn‟t go through?Jack: Could be. I‟ll have to contact the bank andask.Suzanne: Good. Can you recall if you checked thebank balances after the transfer?Jack: Well, I don‟t remember, but I know I was ina hurry.Suzanne: Ah. I have an idea on how we can pre-vent this from happening. How about if we printout the transaction and balances each time we useonline banking. Then we can make sure everythingis working properly.Jack: Great idea. Let‟s do that from now on, andthen we‟ll always know what each of us is doingwith the banking.Quite a bit different, isn‟t it. The conversationstays on topic, and results in a practical solutionto prevent the problem from occurring again.What changed?We could assume that their attitudes differed inthe two examples, or they “respected” each other
  • 18. 8more in the second example, and perhaps that‟strue. We don‟t know, because attitudes and re-spect are INSIDE each person, invisible except forwhat we can see and hear. Or, we could look atthe words they used and compare in the first andsecond example.In the first example, almost every part of the ex-change is littered with imperfect phrases, choicesof wording that, while not “in your face” confron-tational, put the other person in a defensive posi-tion. The result is that as feelings are hurt, thingsget worse, as each person “triggers” the other. Thepoint is quickly lost.In the second example, both Suzanne and Jackchoose different words and phrases. For example,to start the conversation, Suzanne, removes thehint of blame embedded in “Jack, did you forget totransfer money into our checking account? “ andcomes at it differently, much more in the spirit ofinquiry and working together. Jack, not feelingunder attack, responds in the same spirit, andwhat could have turned bad, now ends up as asimple, direct and constructive discussion.All that changed was the words. Certainly,things like body language, and tone of voice areimportant, no amount of positive body languageand “loving tone” would have made a difference inthe first example. You can‟t “fix” imperfectphrases in any other way than to find better waysto say similar things.Not Just Important In Personal Relation-shipsAt first glance, you‟d think that the kinds of dif-ficulties Suzanne and Jack encounter in the firstexample apply only to close personal relation-
  • 19. 9ships, within families, between couples, with chil-dren. You‟d be wrong.The same issue, the power of our words, appliesto our jobs, careers and friends. Job and careersuccess has a lot of components, but you‟ll tendto find that those who move upwards along a ca-reer path tend to get along well with those aroundthem. It makes sense. Bosses and other work de-cision-makers aren‟t inclined to promote peoplewho make their lives miserable, or who communi-cate so badly, they create conflicts in the work-place, when those conflicts are unnecessary.In fact, you have probably run in to people atwork who are like Pigpen in the Charlie Browncomics. Everywhere they go, a cloud of conflictfollows. This happens, even with highly competentpeople, because they: are unaware of how their words and phrasesare interpreted by those around them they haven‟t developed the skills to combatthe tendency we all have to use more child-like ways to express themselves particularlywhen we are emotionally invested in the con-versation.Sure, some may simply be “bad people”, andsome may be plain angry all the time, or haveother personality issues, but all those thingsmanifest themselves in the words and phrasesthey use. The saddest situations occur when aperson, well intentioned perhaps, and even aboveaverage in terms of job related skills, ends up los-ing a job, or hitting a career wall, because of thewords he or she uses.Whether it‟s asking the boss for a raise, or work-ing in a team, or...well, almost anything in the
  • 20. 10workplace, if you choose the wrong words, youmight well be harming your career, and in fact,your income.A Special Note About Children — YOUR Chil-drenRaising children is a challenge, and for many,it‟s the most important part of their lives. For thatreason, it‟s worth looking at the words you usewith your children, and your role in teachingthem to communicate effectively, and “set themup” for future success in THEIR families, and intheir careers.You probably know what follows, but it‟s stillgood to review.Your children learn about the world in a numberof ways, but by far, the most important is thatthey see everything you do and SAY. They mimicyou even before they have any clue as to themeaning of the words they copy. A little scary,when you come to think about it; how much in-fluence you have whether you like it or not. Inshort, the words you use are exceedingly power-ful.Couple that with parental tendencies to get frus-trated with their children, and it becomes particu-larly important to alter the imperfect phrases youuse with your children, and replace them withbetter phrasings that TEACH your children howpeople can interact in constructive ways.That‟s one of the differences between interactingwith adults in your life, and interacting with yourchildren. In most adult situations, your goal isn‟tto teach. Your goal is to build and maintain posi-tive relationships sustainable over time, and re-
  • 21. 11duce unnecessary disagreements and conflict.Of course, you want that with your kids, too.With children though, there‟s the added responsi-bility of teaching them what‟s good to say, andwhat‟s not good to say, and they will learn thosethings FROM you, by watching and listening.There‟s also an added challenge. Kids aren‟t justminiature adults. They process information differ-ently, and depending on age, they have some builtin limits for what they can understand.There will be times when your frustration, andthe press of every day activities will “push” you touse imperfect phrases with your children thatsend the wrong messages, or imply things youdon‟t mean to say. You will be put in situationswhere you will blurt out things in ways you mightlater regret.You‟re human, and thankfully, children arepretty resilient. Errors are not likely to causeproblems unless you fall into long-term, consis-tent patterns involving the use of imperfectphrases.Be particularly alert to the power of your wordsand phrasings. There may be times when, for ex-ample, you get so tired of nagging your kids to goto bed that you‟ll say something like: “Just be-cause I said so”. Apart from a comment on the“going to bed issue”, what else does it teach thechild? Those with the power don‟t, or shouldn‟t,offer explanations? You might not want to teachyour child that might makes right.The point here is that by becoming more awareof the impact of your choices in words, you canstill get things done with your children, while at
  • 22. 12the same time, teaching them how to interact incivil, cooperative ways. And, lord knows, we needmore people who value that in our society.Chapter Conclusions The words and phrases you use COUNT, andin fact have incredible power to build or de-stroy relationships. We all are prone to errors in phrasing whatwe say. Every one of us. Unless we pay at-tention to our words, and change imperfectones into better phrases, we WILL pay aprice in our marriages and intimate relation-ships. Stunted career development, anddamaged relationships with our children,and friends can also result. To prevent the erosion of our relationshipsresulting from imperfect phrasing, we needto know what to STOP saying, and what tosay instead.In the next chapter, we explain how you can usethis book, either on your own, or with others, tostop the pain of unnecessary argument and hurtfeelings.This book is available in both print and Kindle formatand also in downloadable PDF.