I don't know of two words that do more damage to constructive communications than these two words; always and never.
Think about it; you are discussing something, maybe a contract with a vendor and they say something like "well you guys never get here on time" or "why do we always have to do this with you guys."
These statements are pregnant with blame and cause our ego to get defensive and react instead of respond.
Let's all resolve to eliminate absolutes from our dialogue...not all the times obviously.
They are ok words, even good words, the problem is how we use them.
Too often we use them as declarative absolutes. These very often can't possibly be true. The trouble with using these words is how can someone take us seriously if he or she know that we are just plain wrong, at least from their perspective.
These words give people permission to dismiss and ignore any point you are trying to communicate.
If the goal of the conversation is to seek clarity of understanding so both/all parties can move forward with mutual alignment, then our words should be selected to allow us and others to stay engaged.
What difference could that make if we speak with a desire to understand the other party, not just waiting for our turn to talk?
To your team?
To your business?
To your family?
To our communities?
Speaking to really understand rather than just waiting for our turn to be understood.
I have come to believe most people have a desire for three things in life, to be seen, to be heard, and to be understood.
Who in your life needs you to understand them today?
Here is Stephen Covey talking about how to have transformative conversations in a 3-minute video. So simple, but so seldom done. See it here.
If you are paying attention, of course, the most important people that need us to improve our communication are our loved ones.
What other absolutes should we eliminate?
these are just the thoughts of someone who used to know more but now knows less...
I would love to hear from you on your thoughts and feedback...