If you can feel it, you can say it
Most conversations go awry when one person starts to use an accusatory tone. This can sound like this: “You always ignore me”, “You never consider my opinion”, or “Can you ever plan ahead?”.
This kind of lingo can set of a downward spiral of events. For one using “you” in this context typically is like poking your index finger in the chest of the other person. Always, never, ever, etc, are rather strong words and most likely were not meant literally, but they hurt more than the poking “you” finger.
Once offended the other person may start fighting back. And why not? After all “always”, “never”, “ever” was not entirely true anyway. The moment this person also starts throwing similar sentences the other way, a war of the roses can ensue. Even worse are those people of us who say such things to intentionally hurt and drawing pleasure from putting their friends, family, co-workers, employees, etc. down.
A way out is using the expression of feelings rather than using accusatory statements. If you can express how certain behaviors hurt you and how they make you feel, it is typically much easier for the other party to understand what has led to the issue in the first place. Also, the other person’s mental shutters and personal defense system are not engaged and a much more sincere and genuine conversation can happen.
So what could the sentences above sound like? Let’s try this: “When you do not pay attention to me while I am speaking with you makes me feel sad and undervalued.”, “Sometimes I feel like my opinion is not valued at all; it makes me feel ignored”, “Whenever you do not plan ahead I feel like you do not value my time and my day ends up in chaos”.
See the difference? Emphasis lies in expression how a certain behavior makes you feel and how it affects you. This is the way how to keep the conversation at a really professional and factual level. It does not offend and is not intended to make you get even with the other person. A much more fruitful discussion can result. Have fun trying it out.