If someone uses these 11 phrases in a conversation, they lack social skills

Ever chatted with someone and thought, ‘Hmm, this person could use some help with their social skills’? Well, sometimes, it’s the things they say that give them away.

Hard to believe? It’s true – certain phrases can show that someone’s not exactly a pro at handling conversations.

Are you curious to know what these phrases are? Then you’re in the right place. We’ve gathered a list of 11 things people say that might hint they’re not the smoothest talker.

1. “You should…”

Starting a sentence with “you should” is a surefire way to come off as bossy or know-it-all.

It suggests that you’re trying to control the conversation or even the person you’re talking to.

Instead, try framing your suggestion as a question like, “Have you considered…?” or “What do you think about…?”

This way, you’re respecting the other person’s autonomy and making the conversation a two-way street.

Remember, nobody likes to feel cornered or dictated to, especially in casual conversations.

So next time, skip the “should” and go for something less prescriptive!

2. “I don’t care…”

Saying “I don’t care” can come across as dismissive or even rude, as though you’re not interested in what the other person has to say.

As a result, they might feel unimportant or ignored. If you truly don’t have a preference on something, there are polite ways to express this.

For example, “I’m okay with whatever you decide,” or “What do you think would be best?”

Instead of shutting down the conversation, these responses keep it flowing smoothly and show respect for the other person’s opinion or choice.

So, remember to avoid “I don’t care” unless you want to appear indifferent or uncaring!

3. “Whatever.”

Ah, the infamous “whatever.” This is one phrase that I’ve learned to avoid in my own conversations.

Speaking from personal experience, I once used this phrase while chatting with a friend about where to dine out.

They’d suggested a few places, and I, being indecisive, responded with a casual “whatever.”

Unfortunately, this came off as me being uninterested and dismissive. It certainly soured the mood and taught me a valuable lesson.

Instead of using “whatever,” which can seem like you’re brushing off the conversation, it’s better to respond with something like “All your suggestions sound good! Could you choose for us this time?”

This way, you’re conveying your openness to their ideas without shutting down the conversation.

In the world of conversation etiquette, “whatever” is a word that’s best avoided!

4. “It’s not my fault.”

Blame-shifting is a common tactic used by people who have trouble owning up to mistakes.

Instead of saying “it’s not my fault,” try taking responsibility when it’s due.

If you’re not to blame, explain the situation calmly without pointing fingers.

For example, “I understand why you might think that, but here’s what actually happened…”

Not only does this show maturity, it also helps keep the conversation civil and productive.

Avoiding the blame game makes you a better communicator and can even give your brain a little boost. 

5. “I told you so.”

There’s something deeply unsatisfying about hearing the phrase “I told you so.”

It’s a sentence that carries a weight of superiority, gloating, or even schadenfreude.

When someone is already feeling down or frustrated due to a mistake, saying “I told you so” only rubs salt into the wound.

When I think about times where I’ve heard this phrase, it’s always left a sting. Instead of offering support or understanding, it feels like a kick when you’re already down.

It’s much kinder and more empathetic to offer words of encouragement or help instead.

Saying something like, “Don’t worry, we all make mistakes. How can we fix this?” shows compassion and understanding – and that’s what true social skills are all about. 

6. “As I previously mentioned…”

This one hits close to home. I remember using this phrase in a conversation with a coworker once, and immediately regretting it. It felt like I was subtly reprimanding them for not paying attention or forgetting, and that’s not what I had intended.

When you say “as I previously mentioned,” it can come off as condescending or passive-aggressive, as though you’re annoyed at having to repeat yourself. It’s more considerate to simply restate your point without the preamble.

If someone has forgotten or missed what you said, there’s likely a reason for it.

After all, we all have moments where we’re distracted or have too much on our plate.

So instead of highlighting their lapse, try to be patient and understanding. A little empathy goes a long way in improving your social skills

7. “That’s stupid.”

Saying “that’s stupid” is a conversation killer. It’s blunt, it’s harsh, and it’s downright disrespectful.

If someone is sharing an idea or opinion with you, dismissing it as “stupid” shows you’re not interested in understanding their perspective. It can make them feel belittled and shut down any open dialogue.

The truth is, we all see the world differently. And that’s okay. It’s actually more than okay; it’s what makes life interesting!

So instead of shutting someone down, try saying something like, “That’s an interesting point of view. Can you tell me more about why you think that way?”

This encourages more conversation and shows you’re open to understanding different perspectives. 

8. “Calm down.”

Did you know that telling an upset person to “calm down” often has the opposite effect?

Tying to control someone’s emotional response can escalate their emotional state, rather than soothe it.

When you tell someone to “calm down,” it can come across as dismissive of their feelings.

They may feel unheard or misunderstood, which can only heighten their distress.

Instead, try acknowledging their emotions with something like, “I see you’re really upset about this.”

Giving them the space to express their feelings can help them naturally calm down and opens up a more respectful and effective dialogue.

9. “No offense, but…”

I’ll be honest, anytime I’ve heard “No offense, but…” in a conversation, I’ve instinctively braced myself for something potentially offensive.

It’s like a pre-emptive apology for a comment that the speaker knows could hurt or upset the listener.

In my experience, this phrase often precedes negative or critical remarks that can feel harsh or unkind.

If you have feedback to give, it’s better to do so directly and respectfully, without hiding behind “no offense.”

For example, instead of saying “No offense, but I don’t like your outfit,” you could say, “Your outfit isn’t really my style, but what matters is that you like it!”

Constructive and respectful feedback builds better relationships and conversations.

10. “This might be a dumb question, but…”

I’ll be frank, there’s no such thing as a dumb question.

When you preface your questions with this phrase, you’re belittling yourself and your curiosity.

It’s a sort of self-deprecation that can make the conversation awkward and create unnecessary self-doubt.

We all have questions, and we all have things we don’t know. That’s how we learn and grow.

So, instead of putting yourself down, try saying, “I have a question,” and then ask away. You’re entitled to understand things better, and anyone worth conversing with will respect that.

11. “You always…” or “You never…”

These are absolutes that can make someone feel defensive or attacked. As humans, we’re complex—we don’t always or never do anything.

When you use these phrases, it can feel like you’re criticizing the person rather than their actions.

If there’s an issue, address the specific behavior or incident instead of making sweeping statements about the person’s character.

For example, instead of saying, “You never listen to me,” try saying something like, “I felt unheard when I was talking about my day earlier.” It’s more honest, more accurate and it keeps the conversation focused on solving the problem at hand instead of blaming each other.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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