8 phrases you probably say that immediately turn people off, according to psychology

There’s a fine line between saying something impactful and saying something that just doesn’t sit right.

That line is all about perception. You might think you’re expressing your thoughts clearly, but the other person may take it the wrong way.

Psychology can help us understand this better. There are certain phrases that, even if you don’t mean to, can instantly tick people off.

Here, we’ll uncover 8 of those phrases. Becoming aware of these can be a game changer in how you communicate.

Welcome to “8 phrases you probably say that immediately turn people off, according to psychology.” Let’s dive in!

1) “Calm down”

You’ve probably said this with the best intentions. You want to deescalate a heated situation.

But here’s the thing. Telling someone to calm down can do the exact opposite.

For starters, it invalidates their feelings. It’s like saying their emotions aren’t important or reasonable.

Secondly, it can make them feel patronized or belittled. No one wants to be treated like an overreacting child.

According to psychology, it’s more effective to listen and validate their feelings. Instead of telling them to calm down, try saying, “I understand why you’re upset”.

Remember, communication is a two-way street. Respect goes both ways too.

2) “You always…” or “You never…”

Let me share a personal story. I once had a disagreement with a friend over a recurring issue. In the heat of the moment, I blurted out, “You never take my advice seriously!”

Immediately, I could see the change in her demeanor. She became defensive and noticeably upset. Our conversation went downhill from there.

Why? Because phrases like “You always…” or “You never…” are absolute terms. They can come across as accusatory, making the other person feel attacked rather than understood.

These phrases can also shut down any room for constructive dialogue. Instead of using these absolutes, try expressing how their actions make you feel. For instance, “I feel like my advice isn’t taken into consideration sometimes” would have been a better approach.

Communication is about conveying feelings and understanding each other, not about pointing fingers or laying blame.

3) “It’s not my fault”

Did you know that taking accountability is actually linked to higher job satisfaction and well-being? It’s true.

Yet, so often when we’re confronted with a mistake or an issue, our immediate reaction is to say, “It’s not my fault”.

While it might not be your fault, this phrase can come across as defensive and can immediately put the other person off. It shifts blame and avoids accountability.

Instead, try to focus on solving the problem rather than who caused it. Phrases like, “Let’s see what we can do to fix this” are more proactive and show that you’re willing to take responsibility, even if the mistake wasn’t yours.

4) “It’s just a joke”

Humor is subjective. What might seem funny to you, could be offensive or hurtful to someone else. Saying “It’s just a joke” after someone has expressed their discomfort doesn’t make it okay.

In fact, using this phrase can make the other person feel like their feelings are being dismissed or trivialized. They might feel like they’re being overly sensitive or that they can’t take a joke.

Instead, if someone tells you they’re hurt or offended by your comment, try responding with empathy and understanding. A simple “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you” can go a long way in maintaining healthy communication.

5) “I don’t need your help”

We all want to be strong and independent. We want to prove that we can handle our problems on our own. But sometimes, this mindset can lead us to utter words like, “I don’t need your help” even when we do.

This phrase can instantly shut people off. It can make them feel unneeded or that their efforts are not appreciated. It can create distance in relationships and make people hesitant to offer their assistance in the future.

We’re all human, and it’s okay to need help sometimes. Admitting this doesn’t make you weaker, it makes you human. Instead of pushing people away, let them in. You might be surprised at how much lighter your burdens feel when shared.

6) “At least…”

Several years back, I experienced a heartbreaking loss. When I shared my grief with a friend, their response was, “At least you still have other loved ones around you.”

While their intention was good, the phrase “at least” minimized my feelings and made me feel like I wasn’t entitled to my grief.

This phrase is often used to offer a silver lining or positive spin on a difficult situation. But in doing so, it can belittle the person’s feelings and make them feel like their struggles are being dismissed.

Instead, try to validate their feelings. A more empathetic response could be, “I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you.” It acknowledges their pain without trying to minimize it.

7) “Whatever”

“Whatever” is one of those phrases that, even if said in the most casual tone, can come across as dismissive and disrespectful.

It’s often used as a conversation closer, a way to end a discussion when we’re not interested or don’t want to engage further. However, it can make the other person feel like their opinion or feelings are not worth considering.

Instead of shutting down the conversation, try to show you’re open to hearing more. Phrases like, “I see your point” or “Let’s talk more about this” demonstrate that you respect their opinion, even if you don’t agree with it.

8) “You’re too sensitive”

This phrase is a classic example of gaslighting, a form of emotional abuse where a person is made to question their own feelings and reality.

Telling someone they’re too sensitive invalidates their feelings and experiences. It suggests that their reactions are overblown or unjustified.

Remember, everyone has the right to feel their feelings. Instead of labeling someone as “too sensitive”, try to understand why they might feel the way they do. Empathy and understanding are key to respectful communication.

Final thoughts: The power of words

The words we use are so much more than mere sounds or letters. They’re powerful tools, capable of building bridges or burning them down. They can make people feel valued and understood, or dismissed and belittled.

Our phrases, the ones we often utter without a second thought, can have profound impacts on those around us. They can turn people off, make them feel unheard, or even damage relationships.

But they can also do the opposite. They can validate feelings, foster understanding, and build stronger bonds.

Remember, each word you choose to use is a reflection of who you are and how you perceive others. Choose them wisely.

As the famous quote from Yehuda Berg goes, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity…”

Let’s ensure our words create bridges, not barriers.

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

8 phrases that unsuccessful people use to justify their failures, according to psychology

If your partner uses these 8 phrases, they know they’re very lucky to have you