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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· There are a lot of people worse off…

· There are a lot of people who’d kill to have your life.

· There are a lot of people worse off, so quit your complaining.


Another statement of the obvious (“That’s just your opinion”). Most of the time people use phrases like this because they are tired of hearing about the other person’s misery and complaints. Listening to the “poor poor pitiful me” routine is taxing.

Understandable, particularly with children. You do want to teach a child some degree of perspective about his life, and that there will always be people either better off or worse off.

The thing is, does this work? Does it really stop the complaining? Does it really help a child grasp that he or she is quite well off. Does it help the child appreciate, and be grateful for what he or she has, rather than feel short-changed?

Probably not. With adults, it’s just patronizing — something Mom or Dad probably said to them when they were young.

Children aren’t going to get it anyway, without actually seeing for themselves that others are worse off. Children are less able to learn from words than are adults.

 Make It Better:

· I know you feel like you are getting the bad end of this situation. Can you step back a bit to see it from the position of someone else?

· Maybe it’s a bad deal for you, but at least you have [one or two positive things].

 Are these likely to work? Maybe not. It depends, of course. If the other person is a chronic complainer, that may be a style they’ve adopted, and you might have limited success at moving them to a different, more positive outlook. Consider not trying. With a person who tends to be negative, offering up “proof” of how well off they are is more likely to create an argument or provoke a response of “You’re being insensitive”.

If the person is NOT normally negative,  these approaches can work, since the person isn’t “stuck” with a negative outlook on the world. If the person feels negative at the moment, a more objective viewpoint can be helpful.

 As for children, perhaps it’s better to involve them in helping others who ARE less fortunate. Let them SEE others with less, and let them share their “riches”. You may be surprised how easily they embrace the concept, once they’ve had more first hand experiences with others. If you go that route, make sure they won’t be frightened by the experiences. For example, bringing a young child to a child cancer ward could be terrifying for a child. Be age appropriate. 

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