He says, “These are red flags that introduce animosity, torpedo good discussions, and cause projects to be late. These are black-and-white words and the truth is rarely black and white. Here’s what’s wrong with some of them:
- Need– very few things actually need to get done
- Can’t — when you say can’t, you probably can’t
- Easy — easy is a word that’s used to describe other people’s jobs. But notice how rarely people describe their own work as “easy?”
Their cousins are everyone, no one, always, and never.
If a “reserved word” list works for Jason Fried, it might help you and your partner avoid destructive anger and have a good relationship, too.
Remember the seven deadly sins (pride, greed, lust, sloth, envy, gluttony, and anger)? If you have fights that don’t ever seem to get resolved, you might create your own list of seven deadly words that you agree not to use when you’re angry. Here are some words to consider starting your own list with:
- Yeah but
If your mind’s like mine, as soon as I hear “you never listen,” (notice the irony? I have to be listening in order to hear it in the first place, so immediately, the statement is false), I’m coming up with counter-examples and subcategories:
- Which is bigger—listening or hearing?
- What’s the real action point—listening, or implementing?
- What’s the real problem—that I don’t listen, or that it’s a stupid solution in the first place and ought to be fixed?
- Is there another explanation?
The quickest way into a better solution is to never say never, in anger, in the first place. (And oh yeah, I totally get how ridiculous that statement is!!) “You always…” could be exchanged for “you never…” with much the same interpretation.
I know one person who managed to get 21 “yeah buts” into a conversation in less than 15 minutes, including seven after I asked him to stop. When I’m coaching someone, they get three “yeah buts” per conversation, and I’m done. (Not to worry–I explain the rule ahead of time.)
Most of the time, if I need to disagree, I can make my point with a “yes and” construction. Try it sometime. It’s much harder for the other party to take offense.
Cursing, and Cursing at
Sometime when you’re both calm, decide what amount of cursing, swearing, obscenity and/or blasphemy is OK. (Penn and Teller pointed out the difference at the beginning of their shows. While they may be obscene, they assure their audience they will not blaspheme. Having been brushed by lightning once in my life already, I found their clarification about the distinction comforting.) This can be a useful distinction to make, particularly if the two of you come from different spiritual backgrounds.
In my relationship, I have had to ask John not curse casually at all because my filter is weaker. He can cut off swear words at will, when he needs to; I tend to all-or-nothing switch. I’m either cursing or not, not selectively, depending on the audience.
Finally, it’s ok for someone to curse in the heat of an argument with me, but not to “curse at” me. You have the right to make this decision for yourself.