9 toxic phrases that emotionally intelligent people avoid using

When you’re emotionally intelligent, you pretty much have a sixth sense. 

You’re adept at recognizing, understanding, and managing your own emotions and those of others. 

This gives you a distinct advantage over the majority of the population. 

You’re not some emotional loose cannon, blurting out anything that comes to mind. 

You know how to talk to people. You’re aware of how powerful speech can be, and how it can make or break a relationship. 

If you want to cultivate emotional intelligence, then investing time and energy into your communication style will pay off. 

In this article, I’ll run you through the toxic phrases emotionally intelligent people never use. 

Once you get the gist, you’ll know what kind of sentiment to avoid. Let’s dive in!

1) “You’re too sensitive.” 

Here’s the thing: you aren’t entitled to ownership of other people’s emotions. 

“You’re too sensitive” dismisses and invalidates the other person’s feelings, even when they may well be, in fact, valid. You’re reducing their reactions to being unwarranted or exaggerated, which frankly is quite demeaning. 

If you want to be emotionally intelligent, seek to listen and understand rather than put down. You’ll notice the difference in no time. 

My ex used to belittle me frequently. Her jabs would be so subtle and deeply embedded into mundane conversation, I wouldn’t often react.  Occasionally, however, it would bother me enough to say something.

She would respond by labeling me “overly sensitive.”  She was convincing enough that, for a while, I bought the act. 

In fact, I often was the one to end up apologizing. Eventually, I came to my senses and became resentful. 

Moral of the story? You can’t tell people how to feel!

2) “Calm down.” 

When someone is heated, there are certain things you should avoid saying at all costs. 

“Calm down” for instance, is like throwing a vat of diesel into a fire. It’s infuriating. 

Emotionally intelligent people know how to defuse tensions instead of igniting them, avoiding patronizing phrases like this one. 

Imagine you’re arguing with your partner and instead of taking a gentle approach, you pull “calm down” out of the bag. 

It’s safe to assume that your partner will feel patronized, as if you consider them a melodramatic lunatic, while you’re sitting condescendingly on higher moral ground. 

Not a great look. 

3) “I told you so.” 

Speaking of establishing superiority, there aren’t many phrases that rub salt in the wound after being proven wrong like “I told you so.” 

Making mistakes is a part of life, one of the core parts of being human, so reinforcing someone’s error is just an act of gloating. 

I have to admit, my current girlfriend and I use “I told you so” occasionally. 

We’re in such close proximity to one another that we sometimes bicker like an elderly, jaded couple, trying to one-up each other constantly. 

But as I write this, I now realize that this approach needs to go. We both have to learn to swallow our pride and let go to make things work down the line. 

4) “That’s just how I am.”

As humans, we need to constantly grow and evolve and embrace that the world is an ever-changing place. 

Emotionally intelligent people are cognizant of this. They know that phrases like “that’s just how I am” are incredibly limiting–that in a few words, they’re essentially avoiding personal growth and accountability.

It’s like a bigoted elder spewing archaic toxicity using phrases like “that’s just how I am” as a shield.

It’s never too late to change, regardless of age. Changing your speech patterns is a good place to start. 

5) “You always…” or “You never…” 

Real talk: emotionally intelligent people know how to make those around them feel good about themselves. 

They often take the high road, even when it’s not expected of them. They aim to uplift, not make sweeping generalizations. 

Hence, they’ll avoid absolute, unfair phrases (“you always,” or “you never…”) that exaggerate and can put the other person on the defensive. 

6) “It’s not a big deal.” 

When it comes to the Hall of Fame of dismissive phrases, it’s hard to ignore “it’s not a big deal.” 

As established, the emotionally intelligent person will always first seek to understand before speaking

They want to validate experiences with care and caution, not dismiss someone’s concerns and make them feel unimportant or stupid.  

7) “Why can’t you be more like…?” 

Emotionally intelligent people know that there are specific phrases that can almost universally hurt people.

Comparing someone to someone else in an accusatory and unfavorable manner won’t just erode self-worth, it will breed plenty of resentment. 

You’re essentially calling the other person inadequate or incompetent with “Why can’t you be more like…?”

My ex used to compare me with her friend’s boyfriends.  I’ll be honest, this would really piss me off. 

Sure, it would affect my self-esteem, but what really ticked me off was that the critique wasn’t done in a constructive manner. Her primary goal was to hurt me and make me feel bad about myself, while she could bask in supremacy. 

I get it, when we are in the heat of battle, we might blurt things out we don’t mean. But for me, there are certain things you simply shouldn’t say, this being one of them. 

8) “If you loved me, you would…” 

Every emotionally intelligent person I’ve come across in life has consistently treated their romantic partners (and exes) with dignity and respect, even when things don’t work out. 

They almost always take the moral high ground, not easily swayed by petty feelings or emotions. 

Now, I’m not saying they don’t have negative feelings; they just don’t let those feelings define them or their actions. They’re able to overcome them. 

Giving people manipulative ultimatums like “If you loved me, you would…” can create feelings of guilt, obligation, and antagonism rather than genuine connection. 

When you’re emotionally intelligent, you tend to fight and communicate with fairness and grace, without compromising your integrity or that of your partner.

9) “Whatever.” 

“Whatever” is the epitome of dismissiveness. 

Let’s say the other person is animatedly telling you a story, and instead of actively listening, you mutter “Whatever.” 

It tells the other person you’re too self-absorbed to be interested and engaged in the conversation. It is also just plain rude.

Giving a person your full attention equates to generosity, something that the emotionally intelligent person is deeply attuned to even if the subject doesn’t particularly interest them. 

Active listening is a fundamental trait for anyone who wants to build genuine relationships–passive condescension is not. 

Final words

You don’t necessarily need to be wealthy, educated, or good-looking to make it in this world. 

If you are emotionally intelligent and can handle people with tactfulness and class, you’re already miles ahead of the game. 

So start striving for positive interactions, building mutual understanding, and practicing compassion. 

The good news is emotional intelligence can be cultivated in anyone with a bit of effort and dedication. 

By absorbing the contents of this article, you have a firm foundation of phrases to avoid. 

In time, you’ll fully understand the weight of the words you choose to impart–and ultimately, choose phrases that uplift, validate, and respect others rather than demean and patronize. 

You got this. 

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Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Ideapod! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

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