Words create worlds. They start wars. They can bring people together or they can tear people apart.
We were born to talk; not so that we could be right, but so that we could be close. But how hard is it to find the right words? It must be difficult because most people live alienated not so much because of their actions, but because of their words.
Here are five of the very best phrases you can use in your marriage, with your children, at work, or anyplace else.
- “Together we can.” Say this to another person and the pressure in the room goes down dramatically. It says that we’re in this together. It’s not just you. And it’s not just me. Or it’s not me against you. But together. What a beautiful word. That’s why we get married, so we can be together. That’s why we form companies, alliances, sports teams; because we realize together we can be so much more. Use the phrase together we can as much as you can, in any situation that you can.
- “I would love to help.” This lets the other person know that you’re leaning forward into the relationship, that you’re motivated, that you’re engaged, that you would love to help the marriage go to the next level, you’d love to help your children reach their goals, you’d love to help collaborate to make the next project that your company launches the best success yet.
- “Before we react, let’s take a step back and chill.” How much damage is caused by pure emotion and overreacting? I often advise couples to not just watch how they react in the dating relationship, but how they react when things go wrong. Almost all things said and done in the heat of the moment are the wrong things to be said and done. Often the damage done by the emotional responses is all out of proportion to the situation and can take literally years to repair.
- “I understand your point of view.” This is a phrase of respect. And that’s what we owe each other isn’t it? Particularly in relationships, in our marriage, or even in our work environment. “I understand your point of view.” It doesn’t say that I agree, and it doesn’t say that I would come out at the same place if it were me, but I understand you, that you’re smart, intelligent, thoughtful, and I’m showing you the respect that you deserve. And it’s amazing how willing people are to negotiate with people who they know respect them and are willing to listen to their point of view,
- Maybe the best phrase of all that can be said, “I’m sorry. How can I make it right?” Let’s be honest. Conflict is inevitable whether it’s in a marriage, parenting, a work environment, a team, or just guys hanging out. You’re going to have to say you’re sorry, but not reluctantly, and not flippantly. But when you say, “I’m sorry. How can I make it right?” you’re saying that you’re taking responsibility for your part in the conflict or the problem. You’re not just showing respect, you’re saying, “I’m a person who can be trusted even when I’ve failed to deliver on what I promised.”
These are five of the best phrases you can use to bring about harmony, cooperation, and ultimate success. Use them often. Find ways to work them into your team meetings. Tell people that this is what you expect in your day-to-day relationships. Even when the friction of speed, disagreement, and market forces pressure you into unhealthy ways of communication, you’ll hold true in these phrases that promote respect, honor and long-term trust.