A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

10 Things You Need to Stop Saying to the People in Your Life

If you want to keep your personal and professional relationships happy and healthy, never utter these words.

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Mix raced couple of male business partners planning next sales period. Indian and Korean male colleagues in formal shirts and studying documents in the big office room. Business concept

What not to say to your boss

Don’t count on that raise or promotion if you start saying things like “that’s not in my job description.” Negativity gets you nowhere fast in your career. A task that is outside of your realm of daily duties could be a valuable opportunity to show your boss some versatility in your skills. It could even mean that your boss believes in you enough to take on a new challenge, which is the greatest form of flattery. Even saying things like, “no, I don’t have time to,” can reflect poorly on your work ethic. If you’re afraid of spreading yourself too thin, ask your boss to help you find ways to manage your time more wisely. The simple step of taking initiative to make things work shows your boss that you’re a team player with a “can-do” attitude. It’s not the only thing you should never say to your boss.

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What not to say to your in-laws

You’ve most likely heard of the phrase “mother knows best,” which is why it’s best to steer clear of blurting out things like “your child likes it done this way,” to your in-laws. “Parent and child have the ultimate bond,” says Francesca Di Meglio, the former Newlyweds Expert for about.com and writer of the Italian Mamma blog. “Trying to one-up Mom or prove that your relationship with her child is better than the one she has will only hurt feelings and reap resentment.”

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What not to say to your child

The parenting rule you should always abide by is to never compare your child to another child. Telling your child things like, “why can’t you be more like your sister?” will just make them feel inadequate and lower their self-esteem. Comparisons don’t do any good for anyone no matter their age. Then again, you don’t want to coddle your child either by saying, “let me help,” every time they have a problem they can’t solve. “If you jump in too soon, that can undermine your child’s independence because he’ll always be looking to others for answers,” says Myrna Shure, PhD, professor emeritus of psychology at Drexel University in Philadelphia told Parents.com. She recommends asking questions to help your child find solutions for themselves and hone their independence. For example, questions like, “Do you think the big piece or the little should go at the bottom?” are a good place to start along with these  compliments that you need to stop giving to your kids.

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Man and woman talking. Discussion business ideas.

What not to say to your spouse

There’s nothing worse than telling your dearly beloved, “I don’t believe you,” especially when trust is one of the many hallmarks of a healthy relationship. Words like these make you sound accusatory, which always backfires no matter what. Instead soften your skepticism with phrases like, “I’m having trouble believing you’re telling me the entire story.” Another phrase on the no-no list includes “you’re overreacting” because it makes your partner feel like their emotions aren’t valid. “You want your partner to feel safe showing and voicing his or her vulnerability without fear of judgment,” says Laurel House, a dating and empowerment coach. But those aren’t the only things you should never say to your spouse.

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What not to say to your friend

If one of your friends just broke up with a long-term significant other, try to avoid saying things like, “Don’t worry, you’ve still got lots of time.” This just implies that there’s a ticking clock somewhere that’s counting down the days or years for when it’s deemed suitable or unsuitable to start a committed relationship. There is no impending deadline for meeting the right person or finding the perfect job so don’t put that kind of pressure on your friend even if you mean well.

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What not to say to your doctor

Sure, your mother can always tell when you’re lying, but your doctor may not be able to. It’s your doctor’s job to properly prescribe the best medicine to help you overcome an illness as soon as possible, whether it’s a cold or an acne breakout. However, if you don’t follow your doctor’s orders and take the medicine as directed, you’ll find that you have trouble beating the illness or condition. And lying to your doctor about taking a prescription that you stopped taking two weeks prior could even be potentially dangerous for your health. “If you are not truthful about whether you are actually using your medications, then we cannot accurately gauge if they are or are not working for you,” explains Manhattan dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. Your medication usage isn’t the only lie you need to stop telling your doctor.

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What not to say to your sibling

You should never ask your brother or sister, “why are you being so protective?” because it can come across as hostile and unwanted. It’s in your sibling’s nature to protect and watch out for you and protect you since they only want what is best for you. You should respect that they have your back instead of getting defensive. “Sure, you’re an adult and can do what you want,” says Overstreet. “However, don’t make a careless mistake that will affect the relationship with your sibling who will be in your life forever.”

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What not to say to your child’s teacher

There are lots of things you should never say in front of your child and accusing their teacher of being wrong is one of them. As an authority figure, you’re giving your child permission to speak to his or her teacher in a rude and disrespectful manner. The phrase, “you don’t know what you’re doing,” is another one to add to the list. Teachers are trained to handle classroom discipline and are required to have master’s degrees in education. In fact, most of the time the curriculum is out of their hands, so keep that in mind before you ever lash out at them over a lesson.

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What not to say to your mechanic

No trained, reputable mechanic ever wants to hear the words, “I know what the problem is, just fix what I tell you.” It will often start you and your mechanic off on the wrong foot by undermining their ability to diagnose and fix your car’s problems. “I will always listen to what a driver has to say because I need to understand how their car is behaving in order to provide an accurate diagnosis, but there are a huge amount of things I need to test before I know what their problem is,” Joe Stevenson, a mechanic at Delilahs Mobile Mechanics in England told whocanfixmycar.com. “When a driver seems to know what is precisely wrong with their car, I have to explain that they are most likely wrong! People seem to think that mechanics are trying to rip them off by finding new problems but the truth is that they are really there and they do need to be resolved.”

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What not to say to your parent

Merriam-Webster defines the word “hate” as an extreme dislike or disgust. In just three little words you can hurt the people you love the most by saying, “I hate you.” Even in the heat of the moment, it’s important to remember that words are powerful and you should avoid saying anything you might regret later on. “Walk away, grit your teeth, or take a deep breath instead of lashing out,” says Kristie Overstreet, a licensed professional clinical counselor, certified sex therapist and author of Fix Yourself First: 25 Tips to Stop Ruining Your Relationship. Besides, “I hate you” is just one of the many phrases you should never say to your parents or any other member of your family.

Ashley Lewis
Ashley is an Assistant Editor at Reader’s Digest. She received her Master’s Degree from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in 2015. Before joining Reader’s Digest, she was a Jason Sheftell Fellow at the New York Daily News and interned at Seventeen and FOX News. When Ashley is not diligently fact-checking the magazine or writing for rd.com, she enjoys cooking (butternut squash pizza is her signature dish), binge-watching teen rom-coms on Netflix that she’s way too old for, and hiking (and falling down) mountains.