The best vocabulary

May 14, 2021
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Our parents, teachers, bosses, media, and culture all teach us to speak in terms of what's wrong with other people or ourselves.

For most of us, our vocabulary for calling other people names is far larger than our vocabulary for describing how we’re feeling:

...bastard, clown, creep, cretin, dirtbag, dog, fink, heel, joker, louse, rat, rat fink, schmuck, scumbag sleaze, sleazebag, sleazeball, slimeball, slob, snake, so-and-so, barbarian, brute, savage, loudmouth, lowlife, miscreant, scoundrel, wretch, boob, doofus, fool, jackass, nincompoop, nitwit, nut, airhead, birdbrain, blockhead, dink, dolt, dope, dork, goon, half-wit, idiot, imbecile, moron, turkey, brat, insolent, nuisance, pest, snob, snoot, snot, dweeb, nerd, princess, battle-ax, arm candy, old bag, bitch, cow, hussy, witch, wench, pansy, ape, cuckold, prick, sissy, tosser, wank, ass-kiss, dumbass, fink, floozy, geezer, hoser, knucklehead, weirdo, wimp, windbag, wuss, zero, son of a

…And these aren’t even the mean ones!

Dr. Marshall Rosenberg says that it’s self-defeating to express our needs by diagnosing someone else's behavior.

Think about the result.

What happens when we hear something that makes us uncomfortable, angry, upset, or sad...a negative message that we don’t like?

We either blame the other person or blame ourselves.

But there’s a better way

Instead of describing what’s wrong with ourselves or others, we can instead describe what we’re feeling and needing. Everyone has emotions and needs, and all needs are valid. 

This starts with building a vocabulary, not of what’s wrong, but of how we feel.

Here is a PDF with a list of words to describe our emotions when our needs are fulfilled and when they are not fulfilled. Download it. Print it. Keep it by your desk. Refer to it often to better understand what's going on inside so you can avoid blaming and focus on what you need, instead.

Credit: Center For Non-Violent Communication


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