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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· You shouldn’t feel that way. I didn’t mean to insult you.

· You shouldn’t feel that way.

· You shouldn’t feel that way. Nobody else does.


Who the heck are you to tell anyone how they should and shouldn’t feel? It’s a legitimate question. Sure you might be more objective, but maybe not. Consider the effect of making a judgment on someone else’s feelings, particularly if you haven’t been asked for an opinion.

It’s understandable that you want to help, and think the other person is making him or herself miserable because of having emotional reactions that might be out of proportion to the objective situation. Except it doesn’t work, and INVALIDATES the person and his or her right to emotions.

In the first example above, note that the person speaking is saying the emotions are wrong, because there was no insult intended. Yet the person WAS insulted. Remember that we judge ourselves by our intentions, and others by the results or behavior.

In the third example, not only does the speaker pass judgment, but attempts to bolster the judgment by invoking the “nobody else does”. That’s a pressure tactic.

 Make It Better:

When dealing with the emotions of another person, both of you will be best served if you accept that those emotions exist, and focus on that, rather than on whether the emotions are “right”, or “wrong”.

If your desire is to help, help the person clarify his or her own emotions,  — a little like holding up a mirror for the person. Even then it all has to be gentle. If you want to help withhold your judgment.

· I’m sorry you feel insulted. Do you want to talk about it with me?

· I know you’re feeling your boss hates you. What, specifically does he do…?

· Let’s step back for a minute. Are you upset because your mother called you messy, or is this something from your childhood. 

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