Phrases To Strike From Your Speech: Don’t Be That Way & You Should

by Randy Murray on March 29, 2012

Do other people’s emotional states, their attitudes, sometimes set you on edge? “Don’t be that way,” you want to tell them. “Snap out of it.”

Do you sometimes want to tell that same person or others, “Here’s what you should do . . .”

It’s time to strike those phrases from your vocabulary.

You don’t get to tell people how to feel. In fact, you can’t tell them how to feel and have it make anything like a positive effect. Typically saying those things makes the people being told feel worse. How they feel is their reality. You telling them to “not be that way” isn’t helpful. And it shows that you aren’t empathetic. Their feelings may be out of sync with the situation. But those are their feelings. You and I don’t make matters any better by telling them, “Don’t be that way.”

And “should.” That’s a word we can all do without. “What you should have done,” and any sentence that starts with or contains, “You should,” falls into the same category. You and I don’t know all of the answers. We may see different options, but we don’t know what the right course of action at any moment will be for someone else. That’s for the other person to figure out.

Offering advice is tricky business. I’ve found that it’s a “damned if you do/don’t” situation when people choose to follow or ignore your advice.

But I’m not issuing advice in this piece. I’m issuing instructions. You might think that you’re helping by saying those phrases, but you’re only expressing your own frustrations and pointing out your supposed mental superiority.

It won’t make you feel better to say things like that. It’s little better than yelling in anguish. Both actions are best done in private, away from all others.

What can you do? What can you say? You can be present for others. You can acknowledge their feelings without approving of them. You can share your experience or point out alternate paths of actions, but only do that when you’re asked to.

You just can’t tell them how to feel.

The Phrases To Strike From Your Speech: Don’t Be That Way & You Should by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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