People Skills: Replace 5 Emotionally Triggered Statements #Peopleskills

People Skills: Our words impact others and success!

Pressure, stress, frustration, annoyance, fear, anger, indignation, need for control, and other negative emotions can push us to the edge of disrespecting others. 

Emotion nudges us away from reason and respectful vocabulary.  It temps us to release our tension through words — words we will regret later.

Good news is — we have a choice! We can pause for just a second and choose a more respectful path. This can achieve great results for everyone involved. People skills matter. 

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People Skills: Avoid These 5 Emotionally Triggered Statements

Can you just hear yourself wanting to say these things? Can you even imagine how good you might feel — temporarily? Well the key word here is temporarily. There’s lots of ways to blow off steam. Blow in a different direction and avoid these statements.

  1. Did it ever occur to you?

    The sarcasm screams out frustration and perhaps loads of other negative emotions. This is not really a question. It is a slam. It accuses the other of ignorance or short-sightedness. It takes no ownership of the feelings and leaves a big scar.

  2. Don’t you think?

    Patronizing, dominating, audacious, arrogant, and self-absorbed — that’s what this emotionally triggered statement says about anyone who says it. Again this is not a true question. It is a pressure statement to declare who is right and who is wrong. When we want to know what others think, “what do you think” is a beautiful, honorable, and simple way to find out.

  3. I’m sure you agree.

    This one is actually saying: “I don’t care what you think.” It’s a way pressuring and corralling others to agree or at least yield. Telling others we are sure how they feel or think comes across as a desperate attempt to control and win the day. Even if people yield at the time, agreement will be tentative and commitment weak.

  4. Why didn’t you?

    Many people think that why questions open up discussion and understanding. Yet “why didn’t you” smacks of emotion and smacks those hearing it.

    It presumes and suggests that others are wrong because they didn’t do what we would have done. Be careful of using any “why” question that focuses on the past. “Did you read this before you sent it out?” “Didn’t you think …” are also killer phrases.

    We do better when our questions truly ask for the other person’s view instead of suggesting they are wrong. People skills build understanding and bonds of success.

  5. Stop whining!

    How incredibly rude. How incredibly ridiculous. The phrase “stop whining” is itself a whine! It expresses frustration without a solution. It patronizes adults as it uses a label mostly associated with children.

    When we encounter a chronic complainer that offers no solutions, we get much further by letting them know we welcome their ideas for changes and solutions. Then move on. This people skills approach works. We don’t need to stand there and keep listening to the complaints. We can go do something productive, uplifting, and better yet — fun!

People Skills Benefits

When we resist the emotionally triggered statements, we are and are seen as effective, kind, insightful, strong, and balanced. Secondly we avoid inflicting the scars that block current progress and future success.

A Few People Skills Thoughts to Ponder

  • It takes two people — not one — to mis-communicate. We each must take responsibility when misunderstandings surface.
  • If someone is purposely undermining us, we can set limits and correct course with positive words. Why choose negative when it leaves harmful scars?
  • Diplomacy has been used for centuries to tackle the toughest conflicts before they erupt. The positive approach is worth a try! If we run into a few thick-headed oafs, we can always use a blunt approach as a last resort.

What else would you add to the people skills list above or do you disagree with this approach?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
7 Steps From Brutally Blunt to Helpfully Honest
People Skills: Change One Unfortunate Word
Leadership People Skills: Are You Strong Enough NOT to Leave Scars?
Super Customer Service People Skills: Reverse Regret

©2013 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email before doing so. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

12 Responses to “People Skills: Replace 5 Emotionally Triggered Statements #Peopleskills”

  1. Alli Polin says:


    As I read each statement, with just a quick pause to reflect, each one of them rang true to me. Another one I’d add to the list is “Calm down and listen to me!” I’ve never heard that statement from a calm person that was actually willing to listen to me in return. What I love is the reminder that mis-communication is a two way street. When we talk at each other, instead of connecting with each other through people skills, we’re at risk of damaging relationships and ruining reputations (often our own.)

    ~ Alli

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Oh thank you Alli for that addition! Telling someone else to “calm down, relax” etc… is rarely positive. There is that command like effect even when it is said w/ good intentions and a nice tone of voice.

      I have taught that one for years as a killer phrase in customer service and I am thrilled you have added it here to the broader list.

      Kudos and thanks,

  2. Jon Mertz says:

    Kate, A great list of statements to avoid and engage more respectfully. One to add is “You don’t understand…” Rather, we should take the time to understand another’s perspective.

    Multitasking is another way to be disrespectful when participating in a conversation. We need to put away our devices and listen and engage fully.

    Thanks for raising up our people skills!


  3. Samantha says:

    Great post Kate!

    I had to laugh when I read #1 on your list. There’s been a time or two in my life (grins) where I’ve made that statement in situations where someone was being condescending to me and I was feeling misjudged and misunderstood. I still have to be careful with this one as a trigger response that for me basically means….’Quit treating me like a naive stupid idiot. I’m not as ‘dumb’ as you seem to think by the way you are treating me right now.’ So it’s an ‘ego’ response.

    From your list, my ultimate PET PEEVE when I read/see/hear it from leaders is #5. STOP WHINING!

    It amazes me when someone is in a leadership position that resorts to complaining about complainers and whining about whiners and doesn’t understand they are nothing more then the pot calling the kettle black. An offshoot of this is leaders who complain about the complainers, whine about the whiners, and then complain and whine when their people raise issues and concerns with them.

    What message is the leader sending to everyone?

    1. If you have a problem, I don’t want to hear about it.
    2. Your needs and concerns don’t matter to me.
    3. I don’t want to deal with any issues or problems from my people because it’s too much of a hassle.
    4. Don’t be honest with me because I’m not open to it.

    Basically, if a leader doesn’t like dealing with people, they aren’t really interested in leading people. Nor are they open to them. They’d be happier with a bunch of robots working for them.

    Off my soapbox! : )

    Thanks again for sharing another great post.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Samantha,
      I don’t think you’re on a soapbox. I read your words as filled with experience and the emotional awareness to know that words matter and people must own the impact/results of those words.

      Thanks for adding your list of what leaders convey when they use negative phrases (like stop whining). Great 4 points and well stated.

      Best to you!

  4. Joy Guthrie says:

    I read your list and recognize that I’ve made many of those comments, most often in my personal relationships. Love the additions from Alli and Jon also. Another phrase that came to mind is “If you would only stop and think, you would realize…” …is also very focused on the self. Thanks for the wake-up call.

  5. Liz Weber says:

    Hi Kate –
    Did it ever occur to you that sometimes people just speak without thinking?
    It’s natural and unintended – don’t you think?
    Kate, I’m sure you’ll agree that most managers are well-intended, but they’re just over-loaded with the daily pressures of production and people issues to consistently interact professionally with their team members.
    Why didn’t you acknowledge that in your blog?
    If you don’t agree with me, well then, Stop Whining!
    🙂 🙂 🙂
    Kate I couldn’t help myself from channeling my less-than diplomatic self and that of many, many others I’ve come across. I love this post! Keep up the great writing & works! – L

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Liz, I started laughing at your ironic humorous response as soon as I read it. You brought to life in your comment the very horror and negative effects of speaking this way.

      Kudos on your humor and thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Mely says:

    I would love to know the “proper” ways to address these emotionally loaded questions. When I am feeling the stress, pressure, anger, frustration, etc.. I have a hard time knowing what To say. Would you mind addressing each of these “Don’ts” with Instead say…??? I need a little help with this area. This has already been a very enlightening blog that I have taken to heart. I am guilty of saying one or all of these statements when heated. I am a teacher in training. I would love to know the responses to concentrate on. I want to say things that are respectful, not only professionally but personally too. Thank you.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thank you for your comment Mely. I will do an update to the post and include more alternatives. Grateful for your interest and suggestion!!

      Warmest wishes,

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