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· Every time we talk, you have some sort of complaint.
· Every time we meet for dinner, you’re late.
· Every time you call me, all you ever do is criticize me.
Is there anything that is true ALL THE TIME? Outside of the sun rising, and having to pay taxes every year? That’s where the problem lies.
Let’s say you have a legitimate concern about something — the late for dinner situation mentioned above. You have a right to express your concern, and work with the other person to see if the two of you can find a solution.
Your phrasing however, is factually incorrect. The person probably isn’t late EVERY time (although it might feel like it). By stating things in this way, you create a very natural, argumentative response that goes like this: I am NOT late every time. I was on time last week. So, you end up arguing about how often the person is late, rather than finding a solution, and a lot of emotional energy is wasted.
Make It Better:
Be specific, and stop saying things that aren’t true. Don’t exaggerate to make a point. You’ll have less arguments, and more constructive conversations. For example:
· John, I think you were about fifteen minutes late for our dinner date today, and if I recall, I was waiting for you at the restaurant the last time. Is there some way we can figure to ensure I don’t have to wait, because I only get a one hour dinner hour.