Kick This Phrase to the Curb!


I know I’m a crank, but some words and phrases just rub me the wrong way. I also realize most people do not intend to sound as negative as I hear them sounding; they’re using phrases that are all around us — without thinking of the consequences.

The one I’m focusing on today is

“I don’t blame you”


This is meant to be reassuring, as we may have talked about something we did that didn’t make us happy so we’re looking for understanding. And what do we get? “Blame you.” The last two words are what we hear, and suddenly we end up feelingĀ  less than happy.

I was talking about this in a recent communication class, and I watched nearly all the heads bob up and down as the words sank in. While a few of the attendees did think we were making a mountain out of a mole hill (“they’re too sensitive!”), most agreed that we could learn to use words that worked as we intended. Several shared stories of others who say “I don’t blame you” all the time, and now they realized why it didn’t always make them feel heard / understood / validated.

So in the effort to help all of us create stronger communication skills that can lead to smoother relationships, I ask that we rethink this phrase. What is it we are really trying to say at times when we’re comforting someone?

I understand
I see why you (felt / did) . . .
That makes perfect sense
I would/might have done the same thing


Let’s work on the true message we’re trying to give by using the words that will help.

Are there other phrases that you hear or see that should be kicked to the curb? I’d love to start a dialog and help each other create stronger relationships.