13 common words emotionally intelligent people avoid (that you should avoid, too)

You know those people who just get it?

They always know what to say, can calm down a heated situation, or cheer up a friend who’s feeling low. That’s because they’re emotionally intelligent.

But there’s more to it than just understanding feelings – they’re also careful with their words.

In fact, there are 13 common words they usually dodge – and maybe you should too.

In this piece, we’ll reveal these words and explain why they might not be the best choice for your chats.

The cool part is, by knowing what these words are and trying to use them less, we can all boost our emotional intelligence.

Now, let’s get started and see what these words are. 

1. “You Always…”

Starting off our list is the phrase “you always.”

Emotionally intelligent people avoid this phrase because it can sound accusatory and absolute.

When you say someone “always” does something, it’s like you’re boxing them into a corner, leaving no room for change or growth. It also ignores the times when that person may have acted differently.

Instead of saying “you always,” try to address the specific action or behavior that bothered you.

For instance, instead of saying “You always leave your dishes in the sink,” you could say, “I noticed there were dishes in the sink this morning.

Could you please remember to clean up after yourself?”

This way, you’re addressing the issue without making sweeping generalizations about the person’s behavior.

2. “You Never…”

Just like “you always,” the phrase “you never” is another one emotionally intelligent people steer clear of.

It’s a phrase that sounds like you’re blaming the other person and not recognizing when they do things right. It can make a person feel unappreciated and defensive.

Let’s say your friend forgets to call you back sometimes. Instead of saying, “You never return my calls,” you could say, “I felt a bit upset when I didn’t hear back from you.

Can we figure out a better way to stay in touch?” This approach acknowledges your feelings without blaming the other person or ignoring the times when they do call back.

3. “Whatever”

“Whatever” is a word I personally learned to avoid a while back.

This word, though it seems harmless, can come off as dismissive and indifferent.

It might give the impression that you don’t care, even when that’s not your intention.

I remember when my brother was sharing his plans for a weekend trip with me. I was a bit preoccupied with work and responded with a casual “whatever”.

He immediately felt I wasn’t interested in his plans, which wasn’t true at all! I learned from that incident to replace “whatever” with something like, “That sounds interesting! Can we talk more about it later when I’m less busy?”

This communicates that I do care but am just not able to engage fully at the moment.

4. “Should”

The word “should” is another one that emotionally intelligent people tend to avoid.

It might seem like a simple suggestion, but it often carries the weight of judgment with it. When you say someone “should” do something, it implies that they’re currently doing something wrong.

Using the word “should” can also increase feelings of guilt and dissatisfaction. It sets up an ideal situation that might not align with reality, leading to a sense of failure.

Instead of saying “should,” try offering advice or suggestions in a more positive and empowering way.

For example, instead of saying “You should eat healthier,” you might say, “Eating more fruits and vegetables could help you feel better.”

This way, you’re presenting a suggestion without implying wrongdoing or creating unnecessary pressure.

5. “I Know How You Feel”

This phrase is one that many of us use with good intentions, trying to connect with someone who’s going through a tough time.

However, emotionally intelligent people tend to avoid it.

That’s because no matter how similar our experiences might be, we can’t truly know how someone else feels. Each person’s emotions are unique and personal.

Instead of saying “I know how you feel,” it’s more heartfelt and authentic to say something like, “I can’t imagine exactly what you’re going through, but I’m here for you.”

This shows empathy and understanding, without assuming you know their exact feelings.

It offers comfort and support without unintentionally minimizing their unique experience.

6. “Can’t”

“Can’t” is a word I’ve found myself using less and less. It’s a word that immediately puts a limit on what you can do. It sends a message of defeat before you’ve even started.

I remember when I was trying to learn how to cook. I’d often say, “I can’t make this dish,” even before giving it a try.

Then, one day I decided to swap “can’t” with “haven’t tried yet.” So instead of saying, “I can’t make this dish,” I started saying, “I haven’t tried making this dish yet.”

This subtle shift in language made me more open to learning and trying new recipes.

Emotionally intelligent people understand the power of words and how they can shape our mindset.

By avoiding the word “can’t,” they encourage a growth mindset, where challenges are seen as opportunities to learn and improve.

7. “Fine”

“Fine” is one of the most overused words in our vocabulary. We often use it as a crutch when we don’t want to reveal how we truly feel.

But saying you’re “fine” when you’re not doesn’t do anyone any good, least of all yourself.

Emotionally intelligent people understand the importance of being honest about their feelings, both with themselves and others.

So instead of hiding behind a curt “fine,” they might say, “Actually, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed today,” or, “I’m not great, but I’m hanging in there.”

It’s important to remember that it’s okay not to be okay all the time. Being honest about your feelings can help build stronger, more authentic relationships.

Plus, it allows others the opportunity to provide support when you need it most.

8. “Just”

The word “just” might seem harmless, but it’s another one that emotionally intelligent people are mindful of.

Using “just” can unintentionally minimize what you’re saying, making it seem less important or significant than it really is.

Instead of saying, “I just think,” emotionally intelligent people might say, “I think,” or, “My opinion is.”

By dropping the “just,” they communicate their thoughts and ideas with more authority and confidence.

9. “No Problem”

“No problem” is a phrase I’ve found myself using quite a bit, especially when someone thanks me.

But over time, I realized that it can sometimes give off the wrong impression, like the task may have actually been an inconvenience.

I now try to respond with “You’re welcome” or “Happy to help.”

These responses are more positive and leave no room for misunderstanding. They communicate that I was genuinely glad to be of assistance.

Emotionally intelligent people understand that words carry weight. They choose their words carefully to convey their true intentions and feelings.

Remember, it’s not just about what you say, but how you say it that matters.

10. “Honestly”

“Honestly” is one of those words that can get you into hot water without you even realizing it. It implies that what you’re about to say is the honest truth, but it also suggests that what you said before might not have been.

Emotionally intelligent people avoid it because they aim for honesty in all their communication, not just when they announce it.

11. “Obviously”

“Obviously” is a word that can unintentionally belittle the person you’re talking to. It implies that something should be clear when it might not be to the other person.

Emotionally intelligent people avoid it because they respect everyone’s different perspectives and levels of understanding.

12. “But”

“But” is a big one. It’s often used to connect two thoughts, but it can also negate or diminish what was said before it. Instead of saying “but,” emotionally intelligent people often use “and” to ensure both parts of their statement are given equal weight.

13. “Failure”

Last on our list is the big F – “failure.” It’s a heavy word that carries a lot of negative baggage. Emotionally intelligent people prefer to see setbacks as learning opportunities, not failures.

They understand that every misstep is a chance to grow and improve, so they don’t label these experiences as failures.

Remember, words have power. The language we use can shape our mindset, relationships, and the way others perceive us.

By being mindful of our words, we can communicate more effectively and boost our emotional intelligence.

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Picture of Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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