Avoid Extreme Language

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Photo by Mark Rasmuson on Unsplash

What’s wrong with the following statements?

“Today is the worst day of my life”

“Marcus is my best friend”

“You never listen to me”

“I’m always right”

“I love taking the subway”

“I hate Harry Potter”

Each one of these statements uses extreme language.

Things are either the best or the worst. We either love or hate people. I either always do something or never do something.

Is there any between? Is it possible to see the good and the bad in every situation faced and every person encountered? Is it possible I sometimes do what you ask? Why is it “always” or “never”?

The world appears to be black and white. In reality, we live in a world filled with gray areas. If the world is filled with gray areas, then our language should match that reality.

There are three common scenarios in which we use extreme language. Let’s break down each one:


“Marcus is my best friend”

“Today is the worst day of my life”

Is Marcus really your best friend? If Marcus is your best friend, where does that leave your friends from previous stages of your life?

And is today actually the worst day of your life? Perhaps it is, but there’s also a chance you’ve been through far worse.

If you were to ask yourself these questions, you might think twice about your proclamations.

Humans are myopic creatures. We exaggerate what’s in the present moment as being far greater or worse than previous experiences.


“I hate Harry Potter”

“I love taking the subway”

As they say, “hate is a strong word.” To say you hate something is an extreme statement. Do you actually hate Harry Potter? Or are you simply not much into the fantasy genre?

It’s naive to believe the word “hate” should be removed entirely. But it should be limited to times when we truly despise something and not to be used liberally.

Alright, enough about hate, let’s talk about love. Do I really love the subway? I’ll admit I like it a lot, but to say I love the subway seems a bit much.

What do you think my imaginary girlfriend would think if I told her I loved her and then used “love” to explain my feelings towards the subway?

Love and hate are not to be eliminated from your vocabulary. Both are powerful words that are appropriate when the time is right. Therefore pick your spots to say you love or hate something.


“You never listen to me”

“I’m always right”

“Never” implies you fail to do something 100% of the time. Imagine a parent proclaims you never listen to what he/she asks. If you truly failed to follow through on what your parent demands 100% of the time, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t be where you are today (unless your parents are utter morons).

And how about those who say they’re “always right.” Are there people who are right about everything 100% of the time? If so, jokes on me.

It’s safe to assume nobody has all the answers. To say you’re always right is opening a can of worms. And I don’t like worms.

A Simple Solution

Let’s rework the opening statements. See below:

“Today is the worst day of my life” → “Today has been a hard day”

“I hate Harry Potter” → “I’m not much of a Harry Potter fan”

“You never listen to me.” → “You hardly do what I ask”

“Marcus is my best friend.” → “Marcus is one of my best friends”

“I love taking the subway.” → “I thoroughlly enjoy taking the subway”

“I’m always right” → “I’m right about a lot of things”

What seems like a subtle difference — rephrasing a few words — can make all the difference.

If you’re looking to prove a point, you’re more likely to get others on board with moderate language. Problems and polarization arise when we resort to extreme language.

Extreme Language = Polarization

The last thing we need is more polarization. We can barely agree on anything these days.

Words are powerful. Therefore use them wisely.

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3 Things Not To Do When Apologizing

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

We all make mistakes. Unfortunately some of those mistakes can hurt another person. We’ve been taught the right thing to do in these circumstances is apologize.

While it’s all dandy and nice to apologize, where we can miss the boat is how to go about apologizing to another human being. You may have had the experience of apologizing, only to have the other person lash out even further.

Let’s say you’re with a group of friends and you make an off color joke. One of your friends doesn’t take a liking towards your poorly worded joke. A few minutes later you approach the friend and say the following:

“I’m sorry if my joke offended you. I was only trying to build off the previous joke. I hope you can forgive me.”


Not only is this apology weak, but your friend is even more upset as a result of your half-ass apology.

How could this apology be crafted differently? There are three problem areas, which we’ll break down to better understand how one can go about crafting the proper apology.*

1. Don’t Say “If”

Let’s take the first part of the apology:

“I’m sorry if my joke offended you.”

By saying “if”, it may appear you’re casting the blame on the offended party and not yourself. The rational is “perhaps if my friend wasn’t so sensitive, he wouldn’t have taken offense to the joke in the first place.”

You messed up — not your friend. By taking accountability, you can more authentically apologize to your friend.

See a few more examples how “if” can sink into our apologies:

  • “I’m sorry if I hurt you”
  • “I’m sorry if you interpreted that as offensive”
  • “I’m sorry if you felt that way”

Drop the “if” and say things as they are.

2. Don’t Justify Your Action

Let’s take the second part of the apology:

“I was only trying to build off the previous joke.”

You might have a good reason for explaining away your wrongdoing. While it may feel right to explain or justify your joke, it won’t remove the pain your friend experienced.

Remember, the intention of an action doesn’t nullify the pain experienced by the recipient. If somebody is hurt, take accountability and fess up. Trying to explain your reasoning may not always be the best idea, unless emotions have quelled and there’s room for further dialogue.

3. Don’t Make It About You

Let’s take the third and final part of the apology:

“I hope you can forgive me.”

You shouldn’t apologize to relieve a burden you’re carrying. Apologizing isn’t about about letting the wrongdoer off the hook. Apologies are about the victim, not the culprit.

There’s a chance your friend may not be ready to forgive you. If your apology isn’t accepted and you get upset, that means you were apologizing for your own well-being.

Apologize to support your friend, not to make yourself feel better.

Apologizing The Right Way

The best strategy for any apology is to be as straight forward as possible. Let’s rework our original apology:


“I’m sorry if my joke offended you. I was only trying to build off the previous joke. I hope you can forgive me.”


“I’m sorry about what I said. That was very disrespectful on my part and I promise this won’t happen again.”

When apologizing: be gracious, be humble, take accountability, and let the other person know you’ll be better. Say things as they are. The person will more likely appreciate your honesty and your self-accountability.

We’re all human. We will mess up and will want to apologize because we’re good people.

When you voice your apology, make it count. Not for your sake, but rather for the person that needs to hear it.


*The book So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo influenced some of the ideas in this post. I highly recommend the book.

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4 Reasons You Should Be Sports Literate

Photo by Mario Cuadros from Pexels

Let’s talk sports! If you’re not into sports don’t stop reading just yet. This post is designed specifically for you (but sports fans by all means please read on.)

Every person should have a respectable knowledge of sports. Specifically one should know the results of big games and be able to list the major players on the best teams.

You may say, “Why do I need to keep up with sports? It’s so boring, I don’t understand the rules, and there are more important things happening in this world.”

Sports are not the be-all and end-all, but they are an important part of society. In order to engage with others and be a well rounded person, you should have a foundational base of sports knowledge.

Not convinced yet? See below four reasons you should be sports literate.

1. Sports Are a Safe Topic

Think of all the major headlines you hear about each day. Polarizing political controversies, tensions between bordering nations, failing economies, global health pandemics, natural disasters, and major sporting events. Of these news topics, which of these would you feel most comfortable speaking to a stranger about?

The obvious answer is sports.

Sports are not polarizing and do not involve the loss of life. Of all the topics you could discuss with a stranger, sports is your best bet to minimize the risk of angering or upsetting another person, while still effectively connecting with somebody on a personal level.

2. Sports Bring People Together

Nothing brings people together quite like sports.

Cities know this. When a hometown team is competing for a championship, in no other instance will such a high percentage of a city’s population be watching the same event.

Colleges know this. It’s no coincidence colleges plan their homecomings when their respective football teams are playing.

Nations know this. Events such as the Olympics and the World Cup captivate the entire world unlike anything else. Sports generate national pride, while bringing the world together in a symbolic gesture of peace.

3. Sports Are Cross-Generational

Imagine what the world will look like in 100 years. Now compare what will still be relevant that far in the future to what is relevant today. What will people still care about?

Fashions fade. Technology advances. Empires rise and fall. Culture adopts new forms of entertainment.

But sports are here to stay.

In 100 years the Cubs will still be playing baseball in Chicago, Liverpool will still have a heated rivalry with Manchester United, and the New York Knicks will (probably) still be losing basketball games at historic rates.

4. Sports Transcend Demographics

If you have the opportunity to drive across the country, you’ll realize people live drastically different lives from each other. Imagine meeting somebody who doesn’t look like you, talk like you, while also having differing religious and political beliefs. What’s a topic that has the potential to forge a bond between you and that person?

By now you should know the answer to that question.

The Importance of Sports

People say sports is just a game. And that’s true, it is just a game. But very few things in this world have the power to bring people together the way sports can.

You don’t need to be a sports expert, but you should have enough knowledge to expand the number of people you could connect with. Therefore engage in sports to open your world to new relationships.

You never know who you’ll meet.

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