The 4 Most Important Things to Say in Any Relationship

I was watching an interview of someone who’s life’s passion dealt with helping people communicate.  In his research, he found that there are 4 statements1 that everyone needs to learn how to say to people in order to cultivate healthy relationships.

  • Please forgive me.
  • I forgive you.
  • Thank you.
  • I love you.

Often these are very difficult for some people to tell another person but if left unsaid can, and probably will, leave emotional scars.

Jesus teaches a principle in the Sermon on the Mount that can be helpful in understanding the urgency in communicating these four statements to others.  Consider the following.

Matthew 5:23-24 NASB “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Regarding forgiveness Jesus also teaches this in the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 6:14-15 NASB “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

Resolving a matter quickly aids in the restoration process and brings social and spiritual healing. This can bring physical benefits as well since there is ample physiological evidence which supports the Mind-Body connection.  We all know that it is possible to make ourselves physically sick with worry and that depression, even mild depression, can cause changes in our physical well being and affect.

I know that there are lots of other passages that might be quoted that apply to this area of life but I’ll leave it to these two.

So don’t delay in communicating these sentiments to people in your life, especially when a relationship is broken and in need of repair.  You will be glad you didn’t wait.

1 — from “The Four Things That Matter Most” by Ira Byock M.D.  [Amazon]

Disclaimer: I haven’t read the above book at the time of writing this article, so I can’t yet endorse everything the author presents in the book but plan to read it soon.  However I believe the basic concept is sound.

One book I have read that might be helpful is the following.

Stone, Douglas, Sheila Heen, and Bruce Patton. Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most. New York: Penguin Books, 2010.  [Amazon]