Imperfect Phrases For Relationships

101 COMMON Things You Should Never Say TO Someone Important To You...And What To Say Instead

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Robert's books have sold over 300 thousand copies worldwide, and have been translated into Chinese, French, German and Japanese.

He holds a Masters Degree in Applied Psychology, and has taught clinical and counselling psychology at the college level.

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· Don’t cry.

· Would you please stop blubbering.

· Come on, big boys don’t cry.

· If you don’t stop crying, I’ll really give you something to cry about.



Crying is a natural, normal response to emotional stress, not only occurring when a person is sad, but also extremely happy. While it’s natural, crying can make other people so uncomfortable that they will try to get the person to stop. Sometimes it’s out of concern for the upset individual, but at other times, attempts to stop someone crying are self-serving, aimed at decreasing discomfort for the speaker. That’s why you may tell someone to stop crying, or use similar phrases. The issue, though, is how these expressions come across to an upset person, and more often than not, it’s perceived as insensitive, or denying the person a “safe” place to release pent up emotion. That damages the relationship.

In the examples above, there are several different “tones”. All are damaging. The first, “don’t cry” is really a command, and is certainly not helpful. The second “Would you please stop blubbering”, is an intense value judgment, that removes the sense of safety an upset person needs.

The final two in the list tend to be used mostly with children, who are learning about who they are, and are the most damaging. The last one is a threat, and even if it’s well meaning, it sends the message that expressing emotions, any emotions will result in punishment.

Is that the legacy you want to leave your children?


Make It Better:

Identify whether your desire to stop a person from crying is because you are uncomfortable, or you want to help. Almost always, it will be about you, and even if it’s not, that’s how it will come across. If you care about someone, learn to deal with your own discomfort about crying.

Here are some examples of better responses to crying:


· It’s OK to cry when you are sad.

· I’m sorry if I’ve upset you.

· If you want to talk about it I’m here when you need me.


When faced with an upset person, keep your responses short. Don’t lecture, and give the person some “emotional space”.


Or, don’t say anything, but offer hugs. Even if you feel compelled to help, you don’t have to say anything.  The best way to “help” is to wait until the crying “burns itself out”, and runs its course. When the person is less emotional, talk about what’s happened, the problem, and how you  might help. 

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