Our Strive For More pledge to you during this time of crisis is:

“To provide free, short, simple, and actionable content to tackle the real challenges we are facing now.”

In line with our pledge, here is the third part of a series of actions you can implement right now that come from the real challenges we’ve heard from our clients like you.

Using Words with Caution

In times of stress, we can be more focused on conveying our point then the way in which we express our point.  Three (3) words to be cautious of which DO breakdown communication in these times are noted below, as well as, their alternatives.


  1. You – can cause people to feel defensive, like they are being attacked personally, and/or the communication is one-sided.  It can also make people feel it is all on them and the other person(s) in the communication is not taking responsibility for their actions or the outcome of the communication.  Using the word “I” instead and expressing what you feel or think WILL alleviate a breakdown in communication by putting the onus on you instead of the other person you are communicating with.
  2. Why – can cause people to feel defensive; feel like they have to justify their actions, reasoning, point of view, etc.  Asking “what” or “help me understand” instead WILL alleviate a breakdown in communication by not creating defensiveness in the other person you are communicating with.
  3. Should – can create a sense of guilt for not having done something when used in regards to the past.  It also can be seen as an order when used for engaging in a future action.  Refraining from using the word “should” and instead using something similar to “one possibility” WILL alleviate a breakdown in communication by making the conversation feel more collaborative than directive.

Join Our Getting Through COVID-19 Conversation Thursday 4/2 at 12:05PM EST & download our Effective Communication Guidelines here.

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