Maintaining friendships and relationships seem like a real feat when everyone is always hustling and bustling about. Late texts and the same old replies of “I’m just so busy!” can surely ruin a friendship. At least that is according to Kira Asatryan, a relationship coach and author of Stop Being Lonely: Three Simple Steps to Developing Close Friendships and Deep Relationships. Do you say some of these words in your daily life? In this article, you will find common phrases that may kill a friendship and a few alternate solutions to use instead.
Let’s face it. We’re all busy. With technology, we can peruse our email at the push of a button. It may even seem like our minds are always at work. Everyone says that they are busy, but what does “busy” actually mean? Without being specific, you may be able to blow someone off with a general excuse. Asatryan reveals, “In other words, “busy” allows others to fill in the blank of your true intentions. Often, they will fill that blank with a negative assumption.”
Asatryan suggests being specific about why you are busy, set a time frame for when you know you will be free, and determine if you need to have a difficult conversation with a friend or partner.
You need to….
The word “you” is a great way to compliment someone (you are beautiful, you are sweet, etc). But when you say the phrase, “You need to,” it gives the impression that you do not like your partner or friend and want to change them instead of letting them be who they are. Asatryan says, “When creating closeness, it’s best not to present your opinions as mandates. “You need to” create a mandate that will drive a wedge between people.”
Instead, Asatryan suggests rephrasing the sentence. “You need to be more assertive” might become, “I would like us to make more decisions together.” “You need to be more organized” might become, “I wonder if we can work on straightening out the closets.” Sharing your perspective on the situation fosters closeness and prevents gaps from forming.
I’m sorry if…
We need to apologize when we do something wrong in order to patch up relationships and friendships alike. The one way to not apologize is by saying, “I’m sorry if [fill in the blank].” Saying phrases like “I’m sorry you felt that way” or “I’m sorry you misunderstood what I said,” may lead to narcissistic tendencies such as gaslighting. Be careful how you phrase your apologies and make sure to apologize the right way.
Instead, Asatryan advises, “Apologizing well is about being committed to taking some responsibility. “I’m sorry I…” and “I’m sorry for…” work infinitely better than “I’m sorry if…” A simple “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings” is the type of apology that brings people closer together.”
Why don’t you just…
A form of a “why” question you should never say in a friendship or relationship, this phrase is something that you should always avoid. It implies that the struggle is not valid, according to Asatryan. While it may seem easy from your perspective to do this, that, and the other, it may not be easy for your friend or partner. By invalidating their experience, you create a rift within the relationship.
Instead, try: being engaged and present with your partner or friend as they work the problem out themselves. Collaboration is key to a closer relationship, says Asatryan.
Not right now
Similar to busy, the phrase not right now without any follow-up fosters a feeling of rejection, Asatryan says. Being engaged and present with your friend or partner helps to garner a closer relationship.
Instead, Asatryan advises, “try replacing “not right now” with a request for a specific amount of time. “I just need 20 minutes on this and then I’d love to listen,” elicits a totally different feeling from “not right now.”