Have you ever found yourself regretting how you showed up in an interaction? Or maybe you walked away thinking you could have handled it better? When you make contemptuous statements to your partner such as “You’re dumb!” or “You’re stupid,” you can make the other person feel small, ashamed, and unimportant. It’s all about power – and power is the right to your own thoughts, your own feelings, your own voice, and your own choice. By being more mindful of how we choose our words to make sure we don’t misuse and abuse our power, our partner will then feel heard and understood. 6 Phrases You Should Avoid Saying to Your Partner
“I hear what you’re saying, but…”
This statement is basically saying that your opinion is better than the other person’s. It’s dismissive and it makes them feel unimportant. This doesn’t work because now the person doesn’t feel like their thoughts or feelings matter. You’re shrinking their power when you should be respecting their power. Instead, say this:“I hear what you’re saying and I get that now. What I took from that conversation is…”Give a person’s voice to that conversation and then give your own perspective to balance out the power.
“You need to…”
This overrides the other person’s power to decide for themselves. You’re saying to the person that you know what’s best for them.Instead, say this:“It would really help if you can…”
“Get over it.”
This implies that you’re really not interested in how the other person feels. It’s another misuse of power and it can be an abuse of power if you’re always doing that because you’re being harsh to the person. Instead, say this:“I’m sorry, this is upsetting you, what can I do to help?”Make the person feel heard and understood, and when you do that, they’re more likely to get over it. Sometimes, they just need somebody to listen to them. And if they need advice, they’re more likely to ask for your advice after they’ve felt like you’ve heard them and understood them.
“You never…” or “You always…”
These are extreme statements that are untrue and inaccurate because you’re not giving the other person any grace for the way they act in between, which is probably where they are more of the time. Instead, say this:“It seems at times that…”or“There appears to be a pattern here that I see in our relationship.”“Always” means every time, but pattern refers to frequency. And it’s what the other person needs to hear that it does happen and that there is a pattern.
“You are [insert contemptuous word/s]…”
Contemptuous statements such as – “You’re a jerk.” “You’re an idiot.” “You’re a dumb ass.” “You are stupid.” “You’re a bitch.” “You’re a bastard.” – are extremely disrespectful. Instead of saying: “You’re a jerk.” Say this: “I’m very upset by the way you’re acting right now.”Instead of saying: “Quit being an asshole.”Say this: “Can you please stop?”
In this case, you’re acting like the judge or jury of the situation. It might be true that the person is wrong, but saying it with an attitude of superiority doesn’t work. Or maybe your partner’s not wrong, they just have a different opinion than yours. Again, this goes back to power, the right to their thoughts, their feelings, their voice, and their own choice. Instead, say this:“We disagree on how we see this.”“I could be wrong. But I think you’re jumping to conclusions.”If you want to learn more about things to never say in certain situations, check out https://www.donolund.com/trg009