Photo of scrabble tiles saying 'words have power'
Unkind words can harm others - they are like verball paper cuts

Change your life – Verbal paper cuts

9 June, 2014

Paper cuts are those irritating, superficial cuts that you can get from mishandling paper. Little blood is lost, but they can be painful for several days.

The paper cut is a useful metaphor for relationships. Has anyone ever made a ‘cutting’ comment to you that seemed superficial on the surface, but that caused you considerable discomfort? Have YOU ever said unkind words to someone else?

Your intent was probably not to hurt them – but the result of unkind words, even if spoken in jest, can be like the sting of a paper cut.

May I treat others as I would be treated. What I like not for myself may I dispense not to others” —A Sufi. prayer

If you’d like to get rid of ‘verbal paper cuts’ in a relationship here are a few suggestions:

1. Firstly, just become aware of what it feels like to give or receive a verbal paper cut.

2. Ask those close to you to give you honest feedback. Make a clear agreement with those close to you to let you know when you’ve made a hurtful remark. Agree that you’ll do the same if they say something hurtful to you.

3. When a ‘verbal paper cut’ is made by anyone, ask the questions, “What was the reason I said those things? Is there some unspoken resentment there that I haven’t dealt with? Was I being funny at someone else’s expense?”

4. Finally, take steps to deal with the anger or resentment in a conscious and constructive fashion.


  • Annabel Sutton is a Professional Certified Coach and Author.  She has lived in Los Angeles and Indonesia; survived earthquakes and riots, lived with head-hunters and enjoyed a portfolio career.  She now enjoys a somewhat quieter life in Somerset!  Her latest book, 52 Ways to Transform Your Life (Weekly Wisdom for Busy People), contains 52 inspiring, quick-to-read life tips and is available from . Find more information at