It’s easy to say things that offend people in today’s world. With Christmas on the horizon, every business is struggling to know how to wish others a happy holiday season, no matter which holiday they celebrate. It’s not about being politically correct, but about respect. But it isn’t just the holidays when you need to be aware of what you’re saying to someone. Every day, we have the opportunity to either uplift someone or to put one of our feet in our mouth. We get so focused on what we are going to say next, that we forget to listen to the other person. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence understand that to navigate relationships effectively, you need to focus on the other person and watch what you say. Inspired by Dr. Bradberry’s list, we ask you to think about these phrases and the underlying implication.
“You look tired”
“You look tired.” When someone is tired they can appear unappealing, and they probably know that they don’t look or feel good. A better way to say something is just to ask “Is everything okay?” If they want to answer, it gives an opening. If not, they’ll say something like, I’m fine, which lets you drop the subject.
“Whatever you want”
“It’s up to you” or “I don’t care” or “whatever you want” do not encourage conversation. Think about it, when you ask for someone’s opinion, you really want to know what they want. If you really are indifferent, it’s okay to say that, but you might add “have you considered this option?” or give some input without taking sides.
“You look great today”
“Wow, you look great today” or “You’ve lost a lot of weight.” You get the idea. First, I’m of the opinion that this could easily cross the line in a professional setting. Second, when you include the word “today,” it implies that in the past they didn’t look so great. Avoid references to the past. “You look fantastic” is a great compliment, without the quantifier of the past.
“You always” or “You never” are equally bad phrasing. Rarely, is someone always the same way, so these qualifiers put someone on the defense right away. Instead, try a softer approach, like “you seem to have this problem often” or “I’m feeling like you don’t often” and see if that opens the door to improved communication.
“I’m sorry that you’re upset.”
“I’m sorry that you’re upset.” This one is my pet peeve. I would like to eradicate the word sorry from the vocabulary when it comes to apologies. To me, this sounds as if you are saying that you’re sorry the other person is angry instead of taking accountability for your own actions. Instead, try “I apologize for upsetting you.” It completely changes the tone of the conversation.
Intelligent people are highly aware
Active listening is one sign of high emotional intelligence. Social awareness helps you avoid those awkward moments where something comes out wrong and it’s misunderstood.
Just take a few seconds before opening your mouth to be aware of what you’re saying and to whom. It will help you build stronger relationships and get a more positive response when dealing with strangers.