There are some words that we use that can be very toxic and unhealthy to our relationships.
Two of these words are “never” and “always“.
Have many times have you heard these words in an argument?
How many times have you said these words in an argument?
You never say you’re sorry!
You always put me down!
You never do the dishes!
You always get to choose what to watch on TV!
You never …
You always …
There are two problems when we use these two words in these ways.
1. It is not true.
Nobody never or always does or doesn’t do something. It may feel that way at times but it is not reality. We need to choose accurate words to describe the situation.
2. It automatically puts the other person on the defensive.
Nobody likes to be accused of never or always doing or not doing something. As a result we automatically get defensive. Our first response is to say “No I don’t!” and then we usually follow that up with our own version of “You never …” or “You always …“.
The solution is to use this formula: “I’ve noticed … and I would prefer …”
Instead of saying “You never do the dishes!’ say “I’ve noticed that I’ve done the dishes the last three nights in a row and I would prefer that you did them tonight.”
This formula allows us to state the situation in an accurate and non-accusatory way. It also allows us to state our preference or what we would like to happen in the situation.
Of course this is not a guarantee that the person will agree with you but it should allow for more healthy ongoing dialogue.
Are you guilty of saying never and always in arguments? What are some more examples of how we use never and always in inappropriate ways?