From time to time we all say things that our partners in conversation interpret differently than we think they will. These seemingly innocuous words are the cause of this terrible feeling that comes when you have put your foot into the mouth.
Verbal slip-ups usually happen because people say something without knowledge of the subtle implications of their words. Understanding of such effects needs social awareness – the ability to realize feelings, needs and concerns of others. In fact, it’s a skill, in which many people are lacking.
We fail in social awareness and completely lose sight of our conversation partners because we are too focused on ourselves and on what we’re going to say next. We often do not listen to HEAR, we listen and REACT. Most of us are already narrating what we’ll say while our conversation partner is still speaking.
The greatness of social awareness is that a few simple corrections in the way you express ideas through words can quickly better your relationships with others. To help you improve your communication skills, here is a list of phrases to avoid in casual conversation.
“You look tired.”
Of course, a tired person is unappealing with messy hair, droopy eyes, and distracted attention. Besides, he or she is grouchy and itemizing these drawbacks isn’t the best idea to find out what is happening with the person. Instead ask: “Is everything ok?” It’ll be much better than assuming someone’s disposition, so he/she can open and share easily.
“You’ve lost a ton of weight!”
The compliments like this create the feeling that you're too critical. In such case, telling that she lost a lot of weight gives a glimpse that she used to look unattractive and fat. Instead of comparing, just stating a fact: “You look fabulous!” This simple phrase takes the past out of the picture.
“You never…” or “You always…”
Keep in mind that no one never or always does anything. People don’t consider themselves as boring and one-dimensional, so you can’t define them as such. Phrases like these force people to hit back, which is a dangerous thing, as generally we use these words when wanting something significant to discuss. Instead using such sharp words, just points out what he or she did that was harmful to you.
“You look good for your ”
Using the phrase “for you” as a qualifier is always considered rude and condescending. Genuine compliments don’t need qualifiers, so instead say: “You are so beautiful!” or simply “You look great!”
“As I mentioned before…”
Once in a while, we all forget things. When you begin a sentence with these words, it seems like you’re offended by having to repeat yourself. Getting insulted suggests that you think you’re better than everyone else or, on the other hand, you’re diffident (or both at the same time!). Think about what you can add to your speech to make the message more clear and interesting. This way your companions will remember what you said.
I enjoy my conversational encounters with others and you should as well. Putting forth a bit of purposeful energy and consideration before our initial encounters, can enhance the quality of the conversation greatly.
Be bold - be strong - and keep on keeping on!
-- AC --