If you don't believe that it pays to think before you speak, let me show you what a difference the right language tweakcan make。
You know the difference between "I need more help around the house" and "You're so lazy," right? One is artful diplomacythe other, like bringing in the tanks. But the strategy involved in getting your point across also applies to individual words. For instance, if you're.。。
...Offering constructive criticism
Instead of: "You did a nice job, but the report needs to be finished."
Try: "You did a nice job, and the report needs to be finished."
The subtext: No matter how positive the first part of the statement, the “but” negatesit. “But” might as well stand for “Beholdthe Underlying Truth”. Once people hear it, they're just waiting for the bad news。
...Asking your spouse to change a behavior
Instead of: "Will you stop smoking for my sake?"
Try: "Will you stop smoking for the sake of the kids?"
The subtext: Your spousemay resentyour wanting to change his ways—and use that resentment as an excuse not to change. Putting the focus on a third party removes you from the equation. And focusing on children makes people think in terms of their ideal selves。
...Presenting a problem to your boss
Instead of: "They have issues with the sales staff."
Try: "We have issues with the sales staff."
The subtext: Replacing “they” with “we” can change your outlookand the viewpoint of others. After all, if we're not part of the solution, we're part of the problem。
...Trying to make someone see your side
Instead of: "I know you wanted to surprise me, but changing our plans without warning me was stupid."
Try: "I know you wanted to surprise me, but changing our plans without warning me was not helpful."
The subtext: As President Obama learned the hard way this summer in discussing the arrestof Henry Louis Gates Jr., stupid is an inflammatoryword. Rather than labeling others' actions, conveythe effect of those actions。