You don’t have to live very long to realize: some words are helpful at strengthening relationships — and some are definitely not. Asking your spouse or your child “Do you mind taking the trash out?” definitely tends to work better than saying “Why do I always have to remind you to take out the garbage?”

Married or single, parent or child, supervisor or supervisee, mentor or mentee — we all have plenty of things we want to say, and a lot more that we need to say. And so, it’s helpful to be reminded of key words, phrases, and questions to keep in our “talking toolbox.”

And here’s the thing: there is no shortage of advice on just what we should be saying to each other. If you search Things not to say, Google helpfully suggests some ways you might want to finish that phrase. First option: Things not to say to Siri. Hmm… that may say something about our communication struggles if our first efforts not to mess up our words are to an inanimate object.

But Google also helpfully suggests things not to say in an interview and to someone with anxiety and at a funeral. At the bottom of the list is things not to say to a pregnant woman and things not to say to your wife. (Why the heck are these not at the top of the list?)

a helpful primer on things NOT to say to your wife

It’s not just Google & Tim Hawkins that have suggestions on words to use (or not). In a recent letter to married couples, the Pope urged couples to remember 3 keys words: Please and Thanks and Sorry. Those are good words, Your Excellency, though if I’m remembering right, your vows take care of the whole communication-in-marriage thing.

Commenting on the Pope’s words, the writer of the Axios AM email added his suggestions (helpfully noting they work at work as well as at home):

You’re right
I’m on it
Good point
What can I do?
I hadn’t thought of that
I hear you
I was wrong

So, if Google can do it, some email author, Tim Hawkins & the Pope (by the way, I’d love to see those 2 guys get together and talk) — I’ll add my thoughts to the growing list of Things to say to strengthen a relationship:

Tell me more about…

Can we pray about that?
I love it when you…
How does it impact you when I…?

Can you help me with this?

So, can you help me with this list? What would you add?


2 thoughts on “Things to say (and not say)

  1. I think I would add the phrase “I will help you” to your list. So many things can be daunting for us, that someone telling us they WILL help us (physically, financially, spiritually) without us asking, is very relationship-strengthening in my opinion.

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