Human connection is rooted in effective communication, and a simple phrase can show our support for others. From comforting words of encouragement to everyday expressions of solidarity, the language of support we use unifies and strengthens our communities.
Just as language learning can deepen your connection with others, the language of support used in a sincere way can have the same effect. From hearing a “You’ve got this” during a challenging time or a simple “I’m proud of you” from someone you admire, words of support can lift you up during the toughest times.
But are there phrases that people are tired of hearing, or feel aren’t genuine anymore? Are there sayings that lose their impact if overused?
To learn more about what Americans think about supportive language, language-learning platform Preply surveyed 997 Americans about the supportive words they share and receive. Read on to find out more about how Americans exchange words of support and the words they love most and least.
Americans favorite words of support to hear
The power of well-chosen words can make a world of difference and instill you with confidence and resilience. With so much power, it’s no wonder that 42% of Americans share words of support with others at least daily.
During everyday and challenging times, words of support have a remarkable way of motivating and uplifting people, no matter how or where you share them. With so many avenues to communicate through, it’s interesting to learn that 61% see people sharing words of support more on social media than in real life. While receiving words of support in person is typically a private endeavor, online comments can be viewed by anyone who can access the person’s feed.
However, not all expressions of support are created equal, and certain phrases tend to resonate more strongly with individuals. The best words of support to hear, according to our respondents, are “I’m proud of you,” “You’ve got this,” and “I believe in you.”
The best words of support to hear at home and at work
Although words of encouragement are appreciated, they’re not always frequently received. Only 52% of people hear words of support weekly or less. But sharing words of support alone isn’t always enough, you also have to think about who you’re sharing the words with.
At home, the best words of support to hear are “I love you,” “I appreciate everything you do,” and “I’m proud of you.” In their personal lives, Americans report giving and receiving words of support most to and from their spouse or partner.
But not every loved one is great at sharing uplifting words. Unfortunately, 40% haven’t heard words of support from their parents in six months or longer.
While it’s uncommon that someone at work will tell you, “I love you,” there are other specific uplifting words that are appreciated in the professional world. The best words of support to hear at work are “Great job,” “You’re doing a fantastic job,” and “Keep up the good work.”
Sharing words of support isn’t always easy for Americans. Preply language expert Sylvia Johnson shares how giving encouraging words to others can sometimes be difficult, “Sharing words of support can be complex due to a variety of factors like intense emotions, vulnerability, socio-cultural norms, language proficiency, and the potential for misinterpretation. For instance, expressing affirmations like “I believe in your abilities” could be hindered by the fear of overstepping boundaries.
She says fear of miscommunication can also prevent the act, “The risk of miscommunication can also be a concern as good intentions behind phrases like “You’ve got this” might be misunderstood as pressure. Finally, cultural aspects could discourage people from saying, “Let’s tackle this problem together.” It’s essential to understand these nuances and employ empathetic communication to share supportive words effectively and authentically.”
Words of support that come off as hollow or cliché
Although words of support are typically given with good intentions, they don’t always come across as positive. In fact, 60% have felt like the words of support that are given to them are cliché and insincere.
By understanding the significance of supportive phrases and their impact on our well-being, we can discern which words of support do more harm than good by sounding hollow or cliché. The top words of support that fall into that negative category are, “You’re stronger than you think,” “You’re a fighter,” and “You’ve got this.”
Not only are there phrases that sound hollow or cliché, but the situation can impact how your support is received. The times when you should be extra cautious about the words you share are during loss and grief, stressful situations, and illness and health challenges, as Americans report these being situations where the words of support they receive typically sound hollow or cliché.
The most annoying words of support to hear
While words of support can be incredibly uplifting, there are also instances where the wrong choice of words can lead to annoyance or frustration. Not all expressions of encouragement are received with open arms, and sometimes, even well-intentioned phrases can miss the mark.
It’s essential to be mindful of the individual preferences and emotional state of the person hearing these words, as your words may do more harm than good. The top supportive phrases that people actually find just annoying are, “You’re stronger than you think,” “You’re not defined by this moment,” and “You’re a fighter.”
With the power to lift us up or sometimes leave us annoyed, words of support can make a big difference in Americans’ lives. The way you use language matters, and learning more about it can help you connect with people better.
[This article was originally written by Matt Zajechowski for Preply.com and republished here with permission.]