Here is an assignment that I would like you to do for one week (consider it free therapy). Keep a small piece of paper with you – I’d suggest a 3×5 card, and keep a tally of every time you say or think “should”, “must” or any related word. You will probably be surprised by how often such words enter your vocabulary. Also pay attention to how often you use “you, never, always and why.” Other communication blockers include curse words and racial slurs. Both give people a negative impression of you, and limit effective communication. You will communicate far better if you refer to “that blue chair in the corner” rather than the “F…ing chair,” unless of course, the chair is actually engaged in that activity – in which case that would be the correct word to use.
Try replacing “you should” with the words “I prefer.” Take responsibility only for your own behavior and remember that you can’t control others. You may tell others what you would like, or ask them to do something, the final decision is theirs, and they don’t owe you anything just because you asked for it. Here are some examples below of good communication:

  • I don’t like your clothes on the floor.
  • I wish you could pick up your clothes and put them in the hamper.
  • Please pick up your clothes.
  • I prefer not having to walk over your clothes.
  • I’m doing the laundry now and need you to bring your clothes, or they won’t get washed.
  • I will throw away any clothes that I find on the floor. (only say this if you mean it).
  • I will put all the clothes in a bag and keep them until I don’t see clothes dropped on the floor any more.

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