Being a good communicator will get you places in life.
It can help you get noticed and climb the career ladder faster.
Good communication skills also help you form solid relationships – both in your professional and personal life.
But it’s particularly useful in resolving any conflicts and miscommunications.
That’s why we’ll be taking a look at 13 common phrases that good communicators avoid.
Let’s take a look, shall we?
1) “It’s not my fault”
Ahh, the blame game.
It’s not easy to take responsibility for your mess-ups. So, it’s no surprise when people go on the defensive or point fingers at someone else.
But deflecting the blame is not the best way to handle these situations.
Pointing fingers only riles the other person up or causes them to go on the defensive.
Even if something really isn’t your fault, this still isn’t the best phrase to use.
A better way to handle these situations is to talk it out. What caused the mistake in the first place And what can be done to move forward from it?
If this phrase is not part of your phrasebook, you’re already ahead of the game.
2) “You’re wrong”
Another phrase that good communicators avoid is ‘you’re wrong’.
This phrase implies that someone’s opinion is wrong and theirs is correct. Therefore, they have no interest in hearing what the other person has to say.
This could lead to tense feelings and grievances on either side.
But good communicators understand that both sides of the story are equally important – even if they think one way and their opposition the other.
3) “I don’t care”
Much like ‘you’re wrong’, the phrase ‘I don’t care’ is dismissive. It tells the other person you don’t care what they have to say.
But this phrase is insensitive and could hurt their feelings.
It might also make them feel like their feelings don’t matter.
Again, good communicators are open to other points of view, even if they don’t quite understand them.
This is where a good communicator’s powers of empathy step in. That means they’ll take the time to understand where someone’s coming from (rather than dismissing their opinion entirely).
4) “It’s not my problem”
This is another phrase that can be dismissive. It shuts off any further conversation and can make someone feel like they’re not being heard.
But as I said, good communicators are open to discussions.
They’d want to help out too, even if it’s ‘not their problem’.
That’s why good communicators will first listen to find out what the problem is. They’ll then come up with some solutions or a word of advice to help out the best they can.
5) “What’s your problem?”
If you want to find out what someone’s problem is, this isn’t the best way to ask!
This phrase is confrontational and can start arguments if you’re not careful! That’s because it implies you have no patience to hear someone out.
Their response, in turn, may be defensive or aggressive.
Good communicators are tactful in the way they ask.
They’ll say, ‘How can I help?’ or ‘Is there something you want to talk about?’. It’s much more neutral (and kinder)!
6) “Calm down”
This is one of those statements that has the opposite effect to its meaning.
Because if you tell someone to calm down, they’d probably get even more upset!
Telling someone to calm down means you think they’re overreacting and being overly dramatic. They might not think so, however.
They may have every right to be upset.
Good communicators are careful not to invalidate someone’s feelings with phrases like this.
Instead, they’ll use phrases like ‘I understand you’re upset’.
Or, on the question side of things, ask, ‘What’s wrong?’ or ‘How can I help you?’ to kick off a discussion.
7) “No offense, but…”
This is another phrase that doesn’t have the same effect as its meaning.
How many times have you heard someone start off with ‘No offense, but…’ before saying the most offensive thing humanly possible?
News flash! Saying no offense before causing offense doesn’t cancel out that offense!
Good communicators use alternative phrases to get their point across and use less offensive wording.
8) “You always” or “You never”
These are one of those accusatory phrases that can kick off arguments.
That’s because these phrases put someone into a box they may not even fit into.
For example, you tell your colleague, ‘You’re always late!’
Next thing they’ll do is jump on the defensive and give examples of when they weren’t late.
And they’d probably be right.
They might be late most of the time, but chances are they aren’t late every single day.
In this case, it’s better to be more specific and instead say, ‘You’ve been late the last three times this week.’
The same goes for the phrase ‘You never’. For example – ‘You never clean up after yourself.’
Since these phrases can cause disputes, good communicators avoid them like the plague!
9) “I told you so”
The same goes for ‘I told you so’.
It’s quite a harsh statement to make. Using this phrase can seem like gloating or mocking someone for making the wrong choice.
It can also be condescending. As you can imagine, it would probably make them feel like trash.
That’s why good communicators avoid this phrase.
Instead, they offer constructive criticism and feedback to be helpful.
10) “You need to…”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to be bossed around or treated like a child.
So, I wouldn’t take kindly to a phrase like this, and neither would a lot of people.
That’s because telling someone they need to do something sounds like an order.
Depending on how you say it, it could rub someone the wrong way and make them feel disrespected. It may also put them off doing the said thing, too!
Again, it’s all about being tactful.
Good communicators know this, so they opt for a softer approach by asking instead.
Starting with ‘Could you…’ is much kinder to the ears.
11) “I’ll try”
Surprisingly, this is another phrase that good communicators forgo.
This phrase can come across like you lack a commitment to what’s being asked of you.
The person in question might also think you won’t put that much effort into the task at hand.
I’ll give you an extreme example where this phrase wouldn’t fly.
Let’s say you’re in a relationship and your partner asks you to ‘Please be faithful’. And your response is, ‘I’ll try.’
They’d probably be miffed!
Now they’re questioning your lack of commitment and developing a strong case of trust issues.
I’d imagine they wouldn’t have much faith in your ability to be faithful, either!
I’m saying that a much better phrase to use shows commitment, like, ‘I will’ or ‘Don’t worry, you can trust me!’
This phrase can also stem from a lack of confidence.
But good communicators have the confidence to believe in their capabilities and be clear about it.
Another wishy-washy phrase that good communicators avoid is ‘Maybe’.
It’s similar to ‘I’ll try’ in that it shows a lack of commitment.
But it’s also another way of saying no. Though, it’s a roundabout way of doing so.
Has anyone ever asked you to a party you didn’t want to go to? But you didn’t want to say no outright, so you’d say, ‘Maybe,’ instead.
Let’s be real, though. You knew damn well you weren’t going to go to that party!
Good communicators are more specific and direct with their responses.
Because, quite frankly, a phrase like ‘Maybe’ is indecisive and vague.
Good communicators will instead say, ‘Let me check my calendar first, then I’ll get back to you,’ or, ‘I’ll let you know by tomorrow.’
And if they know they won’t be able to commit to what’s being asked of them, they’ll be respectfully honest about it.
13) “You wouldn’t understand”
Good communicators aren’t ones to make assumptions. I mean, who says someone wouldn’t understand? You never know!
This phrase assumes that someone is not smart enough to get something. Or that they haven’t been through the same feelings or experiences.
But since good communicators don’t know this for sure, they wouldn’t throw a phrase like this out there.
Instead, they’ll avoid judgment and keep an open mind in their interactions.
Being a good communicator takes work and a lot of trial and error.
One of the first steps to being a better communicator is avoiding these phrases.
These phrases can cause hurt feelings, close-off discussions, and start arguments.
There are always two sides to every story. Take the time to understand someone’s point of view, listen to their ideas, and approach every interaction with kindness.
And if you don’t say most or all of these phrases, you’re already a better communicator than most! Keep it up!
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.