If You Can’t Say Something Nice, Here’s What To Do

Bet you were taught as a kid "If you can't say something nice, don't say 'nothin' at all." Here's what to do when you're super frustrated.

The closer we get to the holidays the more stress rears its ugly head. Holiday time is meant to be for family, friends, and fun. So, why is there often hidden conflict that causes gut-busting anger in this time of good deeds and good days?

Partly, it’s because of memories from childhood, partly, we all want to be kind to relatives, neighbors, and colleagues and show our best side. Partly, it’s ‘Thumper’s Law’ that we learned as kids from Bambi and his little rabbit friend Thumper, either to say something nice or zip it.

And then someone makes a snide comment and suddenly your buttons get pushed and your mouth gets unzipped.

Words are triggers.

They can make you go from neutral to defensive in top speed. Then in the blink of an eye you can go from “who cares” to “want revenge.” Words can get you to side with or against almost anyone without a second thought.

Emotional words are the culprits.

And during the holidays you are more likely to be sparked faster and regret what you say sooner.

Pay attention.

I’m going to give you ways respond that will make you relax and have some fun with emotion laden words and learn the subtle art of persuasion.That’sd for you both with family and is also important for your business skills.

Before you open your mouth here are three key areas to address:

                1. What do you want as an outcome from what you are going to say?

                2. What emotional state do you want to happen(curious,fearful,inspirational)?

               3. What words will get your desired outcome?

After you finish reading this post and send it to a friend,I suggest you go to any thesaurus for more words. I’ll just give you a few to spark the flame for some great ways of responding during holiday season and beyond.

Example A: If you want to captivate your annoying sibling who keeps lobbing negatives at everything you say, hold on a minute. Engage him. Make him feel happy. No, don’t call him  Jackass Jerry. Simply tell him being with you makes you feel (no, not like puking) being with him makes you feel “wonderful, joyous, gratified, thankful, elated.” Pick one or all.

Then stop. Let these very powerful emotional words start to work on his nervous system.

Hey, he was expecting you to call him a jerk or better yet, an ass or at least a negative nuisance. What you did is, in my line of work, what you did is called a “pattern interrupt.”

Pattern interrupts are powerful ways of using emotional words to shock the system. To change what is the norm. To get others to say “Hey, this in not what you usually say” and you respond with “Uh, huh.”

Your brother will begin to see you differently. I promise.


Example B: Your colleague wants more of your time than you can give, cause you’re simply fried. Rather than tell her she’s Needy Nellie, make her feel safe and satisfied with what you do for her. Let her know it’s good to work with you and you have given enough. Say stuff like, “I’m glad you’re confident in what I suggest. You’re guaranteed first class support. I’m always here to help at the right time with effective solutions.

She’ll be so grateful for all your support she’ll begin to solve some of her problems on her own. After all, look what an astounding and reliable person she has as a leader.

Example 3:Your significant other is pissed that you can’t come to the office party. While there is resentment on his/her side, you were never given a heads-up and already made another commitment. Both sides are angry. It’s time to take the anger to a next level before clearing the air. Don’t say “Sorry” too soon.

Say stuff like ” I’m exasperated, pessimistic, seething, shocked and resentful at the repulsive, malicious way you have responded. Need more? You find the behavior shameful, repulsive and disgusting. Few more? You’re agitated and appalled by the condemning,deplorable comments. OK, You get the idea.

Then before going to solution, switch and use some of the words from Example 2. Say that you are reliable, supportive, a cut above, confident in your ways of supporting the relationship. Please, don’t overdue or it will simply lead to more anger and you’ll be back with someone who is venomous, critical and exasperated.

Then end with “I wonder if we can find a better way than throwing grenades at each other to resolve this.That matters to me.”

Summary: When you want someone to agree with you, research indicates that empathy works best. Use high emotion words to bring conversations to new heights and change outdated behavior.

High emotion words in the right time and place work like magic.


Originally published at Inc

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