Say This, Not That: 20 Phrases to Use When Someone Is Hurting

I think I know a little something about you. You’re a person who cares about others. You truly want to help. You value relationships. Yet you still sometimes find yourself saying the wrong thing. Yes? Me too.

As I made breakfast this morning I thought back to a conversation I had with a friend years ago. She opened up to me about a struggle, a tender place in her heart, and I saw my role as fixing it.

So I used phrases like, “You need to…” and “I think you should….” As I put an English muffin in my toaster I wished it could be a time machine instead. I’d go back and redo that time with my friend; I’ve learned a few things since then.

It seems right now the whole world is struggling and in a tender place. So now, more than ever, we need to know how to be kind to each other. Some of that is, of course, expressed in what we do. But our words matter too.

What do we say when someone we care about is hurting? Perhaps even more important, what do we not say?

I’ve created a short Say This, Not That printable guide based on my work as a counselor, life coach, and fellow human who has said A LOT of things she wishes she could take back.

Click here to download a free 8.5×11 printable of the “Say This, Not That” list. Upon entering your email address, you will immediately receive the PDF.

“The words of the wise bring healing” (Prov. 12:18). As I said before, you are someone who cares about others. You truly want to help. You value relationships. Your words make a difference, and our hurting world needs them more than ever before.

What other phrases would you add to the list I created? Send me a note and let me know!

Cheering You On



  • The Powerful Purpose of Introverts is just $1.99 on ebook (88% off)! I’m not sure how long this will last, so if you’ve wanted a copy (or want to gift the ebook to a friend), you might want to purchase today!
  • This week on More than Small Talk we’re having a conversation about empathy, what compassion fatigue means and why you might have it right now, and how to handle each other’s hearts with care. We also did a Facebook Live Discussion and Q+A  recently. Click here to watch.
  • If you feel called to use your words to encourage others through writing, my online course will help you find your purpose as a writer and make progress this summer. Learn more.
  • I haven’t shared a pic of my people in awhile, so here we are! This is Mark and I with our grandkids, Eula and Clem (if you’re wondering how I can have grandkids, read our family story).

About Holley

About Holley

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach

I like humans, words, and good coffee. And I’d love to help you beat what’s holding you back, become all you’re created to be, and kick butt for the greater good.

Cheering you on,


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