This MIGHT be the only place where you can use absolute language appropriately - I'm not entirely sure.
(notice the complete absence of absolute language in that statement)
I LOVE it when I am working with my clients and, in the process, I am reminded of something important that I have "kind of" forgotten about. This happened to me last week, and it was so powerful that I am feeling I need to share it with a larger audience. I was listening to an exchange between two people and happened to notice that both parties were using what I call ABSOLUTE LANGUAGE quite often in their exchange. Once I had picked up on the language, I began to notice how each person would respond to the language. Let's just say that there was less and less listening going on and more defending. At some point, they turned to me for some input and I pointed out that I heard them using some words that seemed to put the other person on the defensive. I could see the light bulbs go off for them - they made the connection between what was being said and how it made them feel.
EVERYONE or EVERYBODY
Those are a few of the words that make my ABSOLUTE LANGUAGE list. Now, why wouldn't we want to use them? Because when you are talking with me and say "you always interrupt me", I get extremely defensive. I know that I don't ALWAYS interrupt you. Maybe I do sometimes, or maybe I even do it quite often, but I heard ALWAYS and that puts me in a place to defend myself and prove to you that you are wrong. Let me share some examples that I have heard in the last week as I have started to listen for this in conversations around me:
YOU NEVER PUT STUFF AWAY
YOU ARE ALWAYS LATE
EVERYBODY ELSE IS GOING TO THE MOVIE
YOU NEVER LET ME DO WHAT I WANT TO DO
EVERYBODY SUPPORTS MY IDEA
I ALWAYS TELL YOU THANK YOU
I'm guessing at this point that you get MY point. Absolute language can be a crutch. It's easy to lean on one of these words instead of providing specifics. I promise you that we all do it. That is me intentionally using absolute language - we really do ALL use this language from time to time when it is simply not true. My hope for you this week is that you simply pay attention to what you say; when you catch yourself using any of this "all or nothing" kind of language - STOP! You know it's likely not true, so STOP and tell the person about the specifics. It will be better for you - better for them - better for the relationship.