The One Word You Should Never Say During an Argument, Experts Warn
Saying this while you're having an argument usually only makes things worse.
Arguments are not often a time when we're making our most rational choices. In fact, you've probably said things during a fight that you didn't mean or regret later on. But while these transgressions can often be forgiven, some things you say can just make things worse than they already were. In fact, there is one word experts say you should never use during an argument. Read on to find out which word to avoid, and for other words to steer clear of, discover The One Word You're Saying That's Ruining Your Relationship, Experts Say.
You should never use the word "always" in an argument.
You should never use the word "always" during an argument, says Andrea Hipps, LBSW, a certified divorce coach. This remains true no matter who you're arguing with, according to Hipps. "This word assumes permanence in your friend, family member, or partner, which unfairly assumes that their growth in this area is fixed and limited," she explains. "Assigning what someone 'always' does or doesn't do essentially alerts them that while you think this area needs attention, you also think they will be incapable of contributing to its resolution." And for more words to remove from your vocabulary, This One Word You Use Every Day Makes You Sound Judgmental, Experts Say.
You should also avoid using "never."
You also shouldn't use the reverse of "always": "never." According to Nikolina Jeric, dating expert and co-founder of 2Date4Love, these all-or-nothing exaggerations can often "lead to a further fight and hurt the side that's at the receiving end." Ultimately, these words will only increase resentment, which can build as the root for many problems later in the relationship, Jeric says. And for warning signs to be aware of, If You and Your Partner Can't Agree on This, It's Time to Break Up.
Using these words can make someone defensive and discredit your argument.
The words "always" and "never" immediately put someone on the defensive, says Jodie Milton, relationship and intimacy expert at Practical Intimacy. "If there's been a single exception to the accusation you're making—and let's face it, there will usually be at least one—they'll feel as if you don't pay attention to them or value the positive things that they do," she explains. Milton also says you "leave yourself open to being instantly discredited" when you speak in terms of absolutes. If the person you're arguing with can provide even just one example of what you've said being untrue, "whatever point you were trying to make seems exaggerated and is taken less seriously," she notes. And for more relationship advice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
You can try using different words to get a similar point across.
Instead of using either of these words, Milton recommends using a "softer word that more accurately reflects the frequency of the occurrence," like "often," "sometimes," "rarely," or "scarcely."
Hipps also notes that you can redirect the argument altogether. "To redirect, we are at our best when we express our fears to the people we love most. Most arguments that start with the phrase 'I'm afraid' take on a far different tone than those that start with 'you always,'" Hipps explains. "Stating your fears upfront, as in, 'I'm afraid you don't care about this,' 'I'm afraid you don't see me,' or 'I'm afraid we won't be connected,' draws the person you're talking to directly into your pain point." And for more relationship guidance, If Your Partner Is Asking You This One Question, They Could Be Cheating.
If you do use either of these words, there are ways to still salvage the argument.
Arguments can be tricky and we often say things we don't mean, so it's possible that the word "always" or "never" will still slip out. If this happens, you can try to salvage the argument by walking it back and offering a phrase that uses the same absolute word but as a positive, Hipps says. For instance, you can say, "If there's anything you're always doing, it's always standing by me and being willing to talk about our relationship and support it," she recommends.
Milton says you should immediately apologize and then clarify what you were trying to say by using one of those more accurate, softer words. "To help address any defensiveness, you can also give an example of when they did make the effort you're hoping for, and then express your appreciation for it," she suggests. "This allows you to praise the behavior you're looking for, while also making a genuine request to have them do it more frequently." And when you do have to say sorry, This Is the One Word You Should Never Say When Apologizing.