The 7 most important phrases, says veteran advice columnist Ask Amy: Use them when you need ‘the right words'

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Amy Dickinson, 64, has shared life advice in her widely syndicated news column, "Ask Amy," for two decades. Over the years, she wrote many times about emotional intelligence — how to be more self-aware, manage your own feelings, and better show up for other people.

In her final column, she concentrates her best advice into a few key phrases. "I sometimes supply 'scripts' for people who have asked me for the right words to say," she wrote, "and so I thought I would boil these down to some of the most important statements I believe anyone can make."

Those seven phrases, according to Dickinson, are:

  1. I need help
  2. I'm sorry
  3. I forgive you
  4. I love you, just as you are
  5. I'm on your side
  6. You're safe
  7. You are not alone

Why it's so hard to say 'I need help'

Dickinson's first statement is arguably the most difficult for people to incorporate into their lives, experts say, because having to ask for help can make you feel vulnerable, unintelligent or like you're not in control.

"Many of us overestimate the likelihood that the people we're asking for help will say 'no.' For those who associate rejection with an attack on their self-worth, that's a big obstacle," Dutch psychoanalyst Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries wrote for the Harvard Business Review. "Consequently, they would rather carry the burden of their problems alone."

Asking for assistance actually shows self-awareness and can make the person you're approaching feel good, according to de Vries.

"When you place trust in others, you show that you value them, which deepens the relationship," he wrote. "In turn, they'll trust you enough to ask for help when they're in need themselves."

'Emotionally intelligent people understand' the power of empathy and gratitude

Showing empathy, patience and gratitude for others by using phrases that build connection, like "I'm on your side" and "you are not alone," is a surefire sign of emotional intelligence, says Juliette Han, a Harvard-trained neuroscientist and adjunct professor at Columbia Business School. These characteristics can take you far both in the workplace and beyond it.

"Gratitude shouldn't be conditional, and emotionally intelligent people understand this well," Han recently told CNBC Make It.

Telling colleagues you appreciate their efforts is a sign of high EQ, he adds. Emotionally intelligent people "recognize and congratulate someone on a job well done, even if the work was behind the scenes, or they didn't personally gain from it, because they are compassionate and empathetic."

A more fulfilled life with fewer regrets

Showing emotional intelligence in these ways may be able to help you live a more fulfilled life, and one that ends with fewer regrets.

For example, many people don't tell others that they love and forgive them until they're on their deathbeds, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning author and oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee. They repress those feelings instead of sharing them.

"Love and forgiveness, death and transition. Waiting [to express yourself] merely delays the inevitable," Mukherjee recently told graduates at the University of Pennsylvania. "You're living in a world where love and forgiveness have become meaningless, outdated platitudes. ... They're words people have learned to laugh at."

Bronnie Ware, author of the 2011 book "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying" and a former palliative care worker, offers some tips on how to live your life with fewer regrets. Her suggestions foreground vulnerability and connection, much as Amy Dickinson's seven statements do: Be true to yourself; speak your mind; and show the people you love that you care about them often.

"Life is a choice," Ware wrote in a blog post. "It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness."

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