Some phrases have the opposite effect of their literal meaning. For example:
- Telling someone to "calm down" almost always escalates a disagreement
- Telling people "not to look at something" almost always gets them to look immediately
Remember that the message received can differ dramatically from your intended message. Instead of saying things that may be painfully obvious, consider a "show don't tell" approach. People likely already know things that are obvious, even if they haven't openly acknowledged it. Be careful when making observations can be perceived as critical; they’re likely only adding insult to injury.
Who delivers the message also matters. Two people can say the exact same thing, but the recipient may receive opposite messages. Be thoughtful about who can deliver criticism most effectively and think about how you'd react if someone were to tell you the same thing.