You Always, You Never

Communication, Relationships 0 Comments

These are two phrases you never want to start a sentence with. Here they are with an example.

You always blame me.”

You never help clean up.”

People rarely “always” or “never” do something. If you claim someone “always” does something bad, you discount the times when that’s not true, when they’ve done the right thing. You’ve created a grading system that only has two letters: A+ and F.

You also remove any incentive for them changing their behavior. Imagine this internal conversation:

I often forget to put the toilet seat down. But I’m working on it. Sometimes I remember. But the day comes along when I forget, and she says to me “You ALWAYS forget to put it down”. According to that statement, I never remember. So even if I do remember moving forward, what good does it do? The times I’ve been successful in the past aren’t being recognized. So why should I try harder? I could remember the next 5 times, but forget once more – and we’ll be back to “you always”. 

The world is not black and white – it’s very grey. Nothing is purely righteous or purely evil, all right or all wrong. We’re all somewhere in the middle. When we speak in absolutes, we deny that reality. We round off to the nearest negative. All good deeds get washed out by a few bad ones, and with them, the motivation to improve.

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