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Nobody said communication was easy. Many times we believe we’re being polite or straightforward, but we don’t realize that our choice of words might come off as rude or dismissive. Some phrases, while seemingly innocent, can carry an unintended sting. Here are 11 common phrases that, despite their prevalence, might be best avoided if we aim for kinder, more effective communication.
“Just Being Honest”
While honesty is appreciated, this phrase often precedes or follows a negative or critical statement. It can come off as a way to justify being unnecessarily harsh or blunt, making the receiver feel attacked rather than constructively critiqued.
“No Offense, But”
This is a classic precursor to something potentially offensive. If you have to start a sentence with “no offense,” it’s a good indicator that you might want to rethink what you’re about to say.
Often used dismissively, “whatever” can come across as if you’re brushing off what someone else has said. It can seem like you don’t value their input or feelings.
“It’s Just a Joke”
This phrase is commonly used to downplay something hurtful that was said in jest. However, humor is subjective, and what’s funny to one person might be hurtful to another. Using this phrase can invalidate the other person’s feelings.
Telling someone to “calm down” can be patronizing and dismissive, especially if they have a legitimate reason to be upset. It suggests that their feelings aren’t valid or that they’re overreacting.
“You Always” or “You Never”
These absolute terms can be accusatory and make the other person defensive. It’s better to address specific instances instead of making sweeping generalizations.
“I Told You So”
While it might be tempting to say this when you’re proven right, it can come off as gloating. It’s a phrase that offers no comfort or solution and can make the other person feel worse.
“That’s Not My Job”
While it might be true, this phrase can sound dismissive and uncooperative. It’s better to explain why or offer a solution or alternative.
“You Look Tired”
Even if said with concern, this can come off as a polite way of saying someone doesn’t look their best. It can make the person self-conscious about their appearance.
“To Be Honest With You”
This phrase can make it sound like you’re usually not honest, which can make the other person wary. It’s better to be straightforward without making it seem like honesty is not the norm for you.
“Sorry You Feel That Way”
This isn’t a genuine apology. It places the blame on the other person’s feelings rather than taking responsibility for what was said or done.