I learned the hard way to banish three words from my vocabulary, especially if I’m expressing any sense of displeasure or frustration.
Needless to say, my husband has also had to deal with the flare up that can happen if he uses them.
Never, Always and Every Time.
“You never listen to me!”
“You always interrupt me!”
“You complain every time we go…!”
As soon as I hear never, always, or every time something it me gears up for a fight.
The words are inflammatory, and they falsely accuse the other person.
The principle alone of a false label gets people defensive.
Next thing you know, one person is defending themselves against the accusation and the other is trying to prove it to be true.
As much as you believe you’re right to use these words, it’s actually a cognitive distortion.
Your mind is looking for evidence to make you believe something that isn’t true, all to bolster its view of the world.
To keep this post short, I’m not going to delve into cognitive distortions here, but you can read more at this article I recently posted:
Pick your words carefully.
In our calmer moments, we know that never, always and every time are extreme.
Even if you feel the other person has a repeating habit you don’t like, be willing to acknowledge that it may be frequently, but it’s not “never, always or every”.
It’s more realistic that annoying things happen randomly, occasionally or possibly frequently.
If you feel unheard at the moment, here are a few alternative approaches:
“I feel like you’re not listening to me right now.”
“This is important to me, can I have your full attention?”
“I’m not sure you got what I was trying to say, can you tell me what you heard?”
Here are a few more tips to keep things on track.
Keep your focus on the here and now. There’s no need to drag in every example you can remember to bolster your story.
Express how you feel rather than accusing or labeling the other person.
If someone has labeled you with never, always or every time, take a deep breath. Acknowledge if you did something that warrants an apology.
Later, when the dust has settled you can express how you feel when you’re accused of never, always or every time.
I doubt any of us feel better from a fight. Learning a few communication hacks can help us have more peace without sacrificing speaking up when needed.
As always, I wish you all the best!