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(Almost) Never Say Never

The words "always" and "never" are so popular in daily conversation, despite few situations being truly deserving of the adverbs. 

When getting passed over for a promotion: "My work is always overlooked"

When arguing with your spouse: "You never do the dishes"

Always means at all times. Never means at no time ever. Even if rare, I'm sure there was a time you got a pat on the back and your spouse cleaned up after eating. 

We exaggerate to emphasize. To drive home a point. We don't mean to be dishonest, but to exaggerate is to say something false. A poor foundation for communication. 

If a co-worker's late for a meeting, it's unproductive to accuse them of "never being on time", even if tardiness is common. This breeds defensiveness. It's untrue and they can (rightfully) accuse you of lying. 

Exaggerated accusations breeds exaggerated responses. "You're always complaining about me" they'll fire backAt this point, no one is telling the truth and nothing gets resolved.

Start and end with the truth, be specific with your statement. "You were 10 minutes late for this meeting and yesterday's meeting". 

Point to the exact problem. Create focus and keep things clear. Simple, honest conversation. Less dramatic, more productive. 


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In school, we listen to our teachers. At home, our parents. Throughout our childhood, following instructions is praised and rewarded. When we're young, there's value in this. We don't understand how the world works quite yet, so guidance can be lifesaving.  The bias to just accept obviously has drawbacks. Insert old jumping off a bridge adage .  This conditioning is especially strong for kids from lower income households. Their parents are more likely in working class jobs involving strict order-taking. Parents of middle-class households tend to be knowledge workers where influence is essential.  Studies have shown kids from middle-income households are more willing to negotiable with their teachers. They learn from their parents that things are not set in stone. This leads to better grades and learning outcomes when compared to their lower income counterparts who don't negotiable.  In business, if we simply accept things as they are, we would never innovate. In work, w