There are times in life when it is important to prepare a good speech: when you propose or interview for a job, when your child graduates, or when you honor someone at his or her funeral. But for everyday conversation, there are some simple, three-word phrases that others need to hear from you. Short statements can yield big results.
These simple words will improve your relationships at home, at work, and in the community. They will ease tensions, soothe wounds, build bridges, and warm hearts. Spoken generously, they will bring rich returns. Here are 8 simple phrases that can change your relationships.
1.”I was wrong.”
As a friend of mine once said, “You’re never more right than when you admit you’re wrong.” It’s important to acknowledge when we are wrong. It is a sign of true humility. It is the first step in asking for forgiveness.
2. “Help me understand.”
When you have a disagreement with someone, rather than becoming aggressive or defensive, decide to be curious. By taking the time to see where others are coming from and why they do what they do, you can reduce conflict. Really seeing someone else’s perspective may even change yours.
3. “That hurt me.”
It’s possible to air grievances without being confrontational. We don’t need to point the finger at someone else. By explaining how we feel without attaching blame—that hurt, not you hurt—we give other people the opportunity to understand our feelings and consider the part they may have played without putting them on the defensive. We can assert ourselves without putting them down.
4. “Thanks very much.”
Recognizing other people’s actions and efforts reminds us that we are not the center of the universe. It affirms and encourages others in who they are. It helps build cooperation and community. But it requires taking the time to notice the people around you, to pay attention.
5. “I value you.”
When you say these three words, you are essentially saying to someone that they are important to you. When people know they are valued, the relationship grows. You can fill the four chambers of your wife’s heart by saying that you value them.
6. “I respect you.”
We all want others to respect us. Saying these words, especially to a man, is a big deal. As I shared in Filling the 4 Chambers of Your Husband’s Heart, a man needs his woman to value and trust his opinions and decisions, even if they prove to be wrong sometimes. A man also wants his wife to respect his abilities.
7. “I love you.”
Don’t assume others know or believe this because you told them last week or because of what you do for them. Say these magical words to your wife, your husband, your parents, and your children when you or they leave the house, when you finish a call, first thing in the morning, or last thing at night. I say “I love you” to Susan every night before we go to bed, even when I don’t feel like it. Suppose something terrible happened. Wouldn’t it be great to know the last words your loved ones heard from you were “I love you?”
8. “I choose you.”
Marriage isn’t about saying yes on one big day. It’s about saying yes every day afterward and forever. It’s about saying yes to us. When the honeymoon phase has given way to a season in which the sparks may be of conflict instead of romance, remember that love is a choice.
These eight phrases are easy to learn, but they can be hard to speak. The words may be short, but they can get stuck in our throats. So often we are more concerned about our feelings, our rights, our needs, than those of others. But demonstrating the kind of humility these simple words can speak volumes. In a me-me-me world, these words put others first.
As St. Francis of Assisi prayed, “Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”
What simple words do you speak often that enrich your life and the lives of those around you? Please share your comments below.