This One Word You Use Every Day Makes You Sound Judgmental, Experts Say
There's something about this word that can make your conversation take a turn for the worse.
We all know the meaning of words tends to change depending on how you use them. For example, fly can refer to a pesky insect ruining your picnic in the summertime, but it could also refer to how you plan to travel for your summer vacation. But even words that seem to be more inane than fly can have complex, loaded meanings. In fact, when you use one seemingly innocuous word in particular to describe someone else's actions, whether it's during a tense or average conversation, it can make you sound quite judgmental. So what's the one word that experts say to avoid if you don't want to sound too critical? Always. Keep reading to find out why you need to use this word carefully, and for more terms to look out for, read up on The Word You Use All the Time That Makes People Not Trust You, Experts Say.
As Shani Elhiani, LMFT, explains, a word like "always" leads to overgeneralizing where you're "coming to a general conclusion based on a single event or one piece of evidence." So, it doesn't give the people around you the opportunity to grow and make mistakes. "No one is 'always' anything," says licensed psychologist Kelly Rabenstein-Donohoe, PsyD. "Even things we love about others aren't present 100 percent of the time. The word 'always' leaves the other person no choice but to stand in the opposite corner, therefore your point is likely to be lost and communication fails."
Clinical psychologist Meghan Marcum, PsyD, says that even when you use the word "always" to describe something about yourself, all you're doing is adding a great deal of pressure to your life. "'I always' can create an unrealistic expectation or our abilities," Marcum says. "It's extremely difficult to always be on time, always remember daily tasks, and we can set ourselves up for failure by placing absolute expectations on ourselves."
"Always" isn't the only word that can cause problems in your everyday life, of course. For more "absolute" language that you should try to avoid, for the sake of yourself and others, read on. And for more words to keep an eye on, know that If Your Partner Is Using These 2 Words, You May Be Headed for a Breakup.
Similar to "always," the word "forever" has that same implication that nothing can change. "When we verbalize things in absolute terms, it can appear that we don't have the capacity to see grey areas," Marcum says. And for more on troubling forms of communication, check out The Worst Thing You're Saying to Your Partner Without Realizing It.
Another word that may be placing pressure on you or those around you due to its absoluteness is "must." "When used in self-talk or directed at others, such absolutes tend to add unnecessary stress and anxiety," says clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD. And for more phrases that could be unintentionally hurting your relationship, This Is the Worst Way You're Thanking Your Partner, Study Says.
It's important to speak up when you don't want to do something, but the phrase "I'll never" isn't the way to do it. According to licensed psychologist Adrienne Meier, PhD, "'never' is another absolute that is also problematic because it corners the other person and puts them on the defensive." And for more useful tips sent to you directly, sign up for our daily newsletter.
When something goes wrong, calling it "the worst" isn't a good idea. (And we must admit, it's something we're guilty of here too.) "Words like this don't really afford us the opportunity to be human," says Laura Rhodes-Levin, LMFT, founder of The Missing Piece Center for Anxiety. And for more words to keep out of your conversations, check out This One Word Makes People Think You're Selfish, Experts Say.