15 Words and Phrases that Destroy Relationships

ArnoldpictureCertain words and phrases block connections cold and at the same time can make people steaming mad.

 Here are some tips on language, words and phrases to avoid:

You – If you tell someone “You did this” or “You did that” people get defensive. This is especially true if you use a harsh tone.

Generalizations – Words such as “You Always” or “You Never” also get people defensive.

Labels – When you say someone is lazy, has a bad attitude, is careless, unprofessional or stupid it really doesn’t say anything. If you use labels make sure you say specifically what they mean. For example, if you say someone has a bad attitude – you might be more specific and say, “you seem to be late for our meetings.”

Moralize – Be very careful making statements on how things should be done and what is right and proper. These can trigger negative reactions in others.

Use Sarcasm – Although you think you may appear “witty” by being sarcastic, many people may not understand what you are saying and they will get the wrong impression.

Make Threats – Threats will only turn people against you.

Jargon – For example if you say something like, “Let me tell you about the XR1432” – 10 minutes later people are still thinking what is the XR1432?

Euphemisms – Euphemisms are a nice way of saying something. For example, in a war if the word “collateral damage” is used it means that people are getting killed or if a politician says we are going to have “revenue enhancement”, this means that taxes are being raised. Euphemisms weaken the image and confuse people about what you are really saying. And then once they find out what you are saying they get upset.

Slang and Profanity – Many people feel uncomfortable with profanity and it lowers the estimation of you in their eyes.


Red Flag words – These are words that irritate people and they will tune you out once they hear them. For example some common words that offend some people include; girl, honey, dear, darling, babe, and many more.

Vague or Abstract language – Make sure you are specific when you tell people what you will do. Instead of saying as soon as possible or next week, say I will have it on Tuesday.

Overly Complex Words – I would recommend that you keep your language to an 8th grade level. It’s nice to show everyone how smart we are, however, they might not understand the message we are trying to get across. Therefore, use simple and strait forward language.

Say NO in a Nice Way – Many people are afraid to say NO because they fear how it will come out and be perceived by others. If said the wrong way, it can make people upset and uncomfortable. To make sure you say NO in a NICE way so that you don’t alienate others and derail relationships try the USA method

The U – is Understand

The S – is Situation

The A – is Action/Alternative

Therefore, if someone is interrupting you at work, instead of saying in a harsh tone, I’m busy!!, you might say something like, I understand you want to talk with me – by saying this you are acknowledging them — next I would say, “however the situation is this, I’ve got this report that’s due out at 4:15 today” – by doing this you are giving the other person a reason – and finally I’d say (action) “let’s do this, let’s meet tomorrow at 3:00 or today at 5:00 – this way you are giving an alternative or action. By using the USA method you are keeping the relationship alive instead of pushing someone away from you.

Sex, Politics and Religion – Don’t assume everyone shares your views. Tread lightly when discussing controversial topics.

Don’t Take it Personally – Be aware that many people will use words and language that irritate and annoy you. They don’t know any better. Whatever happens, don’t take it personally. Once we start taking it personally we become abrasive, defensive, and argumentative. Also realize that people may be having a bad day. For example, if the clerk at the post office is a little grumpy, realize that they may have had a fight with their spouse or their mother or father is in the hospital. There are many things going on in people’s lives and they may not be as content as you are.

Five (5) Occasions When E-mail Should Never Be Sent

Hand writing  on www.lettgroup.comThere are occasions when written correspondence is required, but e-mail should never be the method of choice.  Yes, e-mail is certainly more timely – immediate as it is – but the nuance, the impact of the message carried is diminished because it is e-mail and not a hand-written letter or note.  The following circumstances are situations for which your response must be sent by a handwritten note or letter, on paper written with a pen, in order to have the correct impact and message.

  1. Condolences on someone’s passing.  A death in the family is hard enough.  Receiving an email from a friend is better than no recognition of the sad occasion but to truly express your heartfelt condolences, a handwritten note is necessary.  A short note that says, “I am truly sorry to hear about your loss.  Please know that you and your family are in my(our) thoughts at this time.”  is all that is necessary to write.  We just want to know that you care enough about us that you would find paper and pen and a stamp to express it.
  2. Telling someone that you love them.  OK, if you are in a committed relationship for a long period of time, a quick e-mail every once in a while saying, “Love you” is nice to receive.  However, if you are still in the wooing stages of your relationship, or trying to make up for something that has gone awry, e-mail is cold, impersonal and flippant compared to a handwritten note.  After all, you can’t hold an e-mail, press it close to your heart, kiss it (yes we sometimes kiss the message as well as the messenger), put it in that special place, pull it out to re-read it again and again the same way a love note on paper written in your lover’s handwriting is handled.  Additionally, it has been proven consistently that we take much greater care with the words we choose to write when we write them with a good pen on good paper.  They have a sense of permanency that e-mails will never gain.
  3. Expressions of gratitude.  While a thank-you for lunch sent by e-mail as soon as you return to your office is admirable (only because most people don’t bother with even the smallest gesture of gratitude for being hosted by another), it is also seen as “better than no thank-you at all.” by those who expect a bit of gratitude for putting themselves out on others’ behalf.  To truly show your gratitude and set yourself apart from your competition and the rest of society in general, put good pen to correspondence card and write three lines of text expressing your appreciation for the gesture just bestowed upon you.  After all, your host not only spent money, they spent some of their precious time with you because they thought you are worth it.  Prove it to them that you are.
  4. Celebration of a special day.  I like e-cards. I like the music, the animation, the colors, clever sayings and all of that.  But, for special days, from special people, if that was all I received from them, I would feel like I somehow was losing standing in their life.  E-cards are too easy!  A couple of buttons to push, a few words of Happy Birthday or Congratulations and hit Send.  Plus… after a couple of days or weeks, they aren’t available to see anymore.  When I receive a celebration greeting card, I think… “This person cares enough about me that they went out, took time to choose a card they thought fit me and the occasion, wrote more than their signature on it and mailed it.  I must be at least a little special in their life.”   Don’t you want that kind of reaction from your friends, colleagues and clients?
  5. Invitation to a party.  It is becoming  more common every day to receive party invitations by email, e-Vite and other on-line sources.  But as a veteran event and meeting planner, I know that the invitation sets the stage for the event.  The invitation starts the event with expressing the theme, design, or formality.  When someone receives an written invitation in the mail to a party, it immediately makes them feel special for being invited.  You as the host also receive more “yes” responses to a written invitation than to an on-line invitation for this reason.  Also, there is the problem of privacy for the invited guests using the on-line resources.  Many people don’t appreciate that others can see whether they have been invited or not, have responded or not, and what their response was.  I personally include myself in that group.  I don’t feel that it is anyone’s business other than the host’s and my own whether I have been invited to an event and whether I have chosen to attend for whatever reason.  I will share that information personally with whom I want if I want.  

Is Asking For Common Courtesy An Extreme Response To Incivility?

Stuart Bradford

I am sharing this article because the author makes important points about our society today and the expectation of courtesy even though we are taught by the media and other sources that courtesy is unimportant.  Please let us know what your thoughts are on this subject.

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Face-to-Face Meetings Are Still Important

Report Highlights Strategic Value of Face-to-Face Meetingsperson to person meeting

Even as virtual meetings become increasingly common, a new study from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) focuses on the specific strategic advantages of face-to-face meetings for large groups. The report, The Future of Meetings: The Case for Face-to-Face, was written by Christine Duffy, President and CEO of Maritz Travel Company, and Mary Beth McEuen, Vice President and Executive Director of The Maritz Institute. McEuen notes that the report identifies three key reasons for face-to-face meetings: 1) to capture attention, especially for new concepts; 2) to inspire a positive emotional climate; and 3) to build human networks and relationships. “Face-to-face meetings possess the unique ability to spur action and drive business results through creating powerful, emotional ties to your business mission and message,” she says. “The fact remains that there’s no substitute for meeting in person when you want to build emotional support and develop relationships.”  The complete study can be found here.

Editor’s Note: As social media becomes more prevalent in our daily lives, we have to be diligent to make time for face-to-face meetings.  When we are in the physical presence of others, our emotional selves are fed by the acceptance and challenges of personal relationships.  We feel better about ourselves after we have a positive meeting with another in person.  Why?  Because we know that the other person is responding to our “real” selves, not just our words.

Saving Face in China – excerpt from new iPhone application

I am grateful that I was a resource for the new iPhone application produced by the International Herald Tribune about international cultures and business.  This is an excerpt from an article which was published today in the IHT and New York Times.  – Cynthia Lett

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