If someone uses these 12 phrases in a conversation, they lack tact and sensitivity

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Have you ever been in a chat where someone blurts out something and you think, “Did they really just say that?”

Yep, some people just miss the mark on sensitivity. It’s like accidentally stepping on someone’s toes – it’s awkward and a bit painful.

In this article, I’ll list 12 phrases that signal someone might need a lesson or two in tact and sensitivity.

By spotting these, you can either steer clear or help guide the conversation in a kinder direction.

Ready? Let’s get started.

1. “Calm down.”

We’ve all heard this one, and it’s a real no-no.

Telling someone to “calm down” rarely has the desired effect. Instead, it often escalates the situation by invalidating the other person’s feelings. It’s like saying their emotions are wrong or overblown.

The next time you feel the urge to tell someone to “calm down,” try acknowledging their feelings instead.

A simple “I can see you’re upset” can go a long way in defusing tension and showing empathy. 

2. “You’re being too sensitive.”

This one’s a real conversation killer.

By saying “you’re being too sensitive,” you’re dismissing the other person’s feelings and experiences. It might seem like a minor thing, but it can feel like a major put-down to the person on the receiving end.

No one likes to have their feelings belittled or overlooked, right?

Instead, try saying, “I didn’t realize that upset you,” or “let’s talk about why you feel this way.”

It shows that you care about their feelings and are open to understanding their point of view.

And isn’t that what good conversation is all about?

3. “I don’t care.”

Back in my college days, I had a friend who used to throw around the phrase “I don’t care” like confetti at a parade.

Every time I’d share something with him – a new movie I saw, a book I was reading, or even just how my day went – he’d respond with an indifferent “I don’t care.”

At first, I brushed it off as his quirky way of being, but over time it started to feel like he genuinely didn’t value what I had to say. It felt dismissive and downright hurtful.

Looking back, I realize that this phrase can create an emotional barrier.

It’s much better to respond with something like “That’s interesting” or “Tell me more about it.” That way, even if you aren’t particularly invested in the topic, you’re still showing respect for the other person’s thoughts and experiences.

4. “It’s just a joke.”

Did you know that humor varies greatly across different cultures and individuals?

What one person finds funny, another person might find offensive.

That’s why the phrase “it’s just a joke” can be so problematic. It’s often used as a way to belittle someone else’s reaction to a comment or action that they found hurtful or insulting.

Instead of acknowledging that the joke may have crossed a line, it puts the blame on the person for not finding it funny.

5. “It’s not a big deal.”

This phrase may seem harmless, but it can feel like a punch to the gut for someone who’s just shared something important with you.

When we say, “It’s not a big deal,” we may unintentionally belittle someone else’s struggles or achievements.

What may not seem major to us can be monumental to them.

Imagine a child sharing their first painting with you, their heart filled with pride. Telling them, “It’s not a big deal,” would crush their spirits.

Instead, try recognizing their feelings or effort with something like, “I can see this is really important to you.” This small change can make a world of difference to someone else. 

6. “You always…” or “You never…”

I remember an old boss of mine who loved using these absolute terms. “You always arrive late,” he’d accuse, or “You never finish your tasks on time.”

It felt like I was being branded as perpetually incompetent, and it was incredibly demoralizing.

Truth is, these phrases are rarely accurate and often serve to exaggerate an issue. They put the other person on the defensive and close off any room for constructive conversation.

Instead of using “always” or “never,” try addressing the specific behavior that’s bothering you. Something like, “I noticed you’ve been late a few times recently, is everything okay?”

It opens up a dialogue and creates a much more positive and productive environment. 

7. “Whatever.”

“Whatever” is the verbal equivalent of an eye roll. It’s dismissive, it’s cold, and it sends a clear message: “I don’t care enough about this conversation to engage.”

It’s the kind of word that leaves a sour taste in your mouth, because it shows a lack of respect for the other person’s thoughts or feelings.

If you’re not interested or you’re getting frustrated, there are better ways to express it.

Try saying, “I need some time to think about this,” or “Let’s talk about this later.” That way, you’re being honest without shutting down the conversation. 

8. “That’s stupid.”

Did you know that the human brain reacts more intensely to negative words than to positive ones? It’s true!

This is because negative words provoke more of an emotional response in us, which is why a phrase like “that’s stupid” can leave such a sting.

Using this phrase to dismiss someone’s idea or opinion can be incredibly hurtful and disrespectful. Rather than crushing their thoughts with such a harsh statement, try offering constructive criticism instead.

You could say something like, “I see where you’re coming from, but have you considered this…?” Remember, it’s all about fostering a positive and respectful conversation.

9. “You’re wrong.”

I’ll never forget the time my high school debate coach told me I was wrong about a point I was making.

He didn’t explain why or offer any guidance – just a flat “you’re wrong.” I felt small, embarrassed, and frustrated.

Here’s the thing: Telling someone they’re wrong without explaining why or offering an alternative doesn’t lead to growth or understanding. It just puts up walls.

If you disagree with someone, try saying something like, “I see things differently,” or “from my perspective…” Then explain your viewpoint.

This way, you’re opening up a dialogue instead of shutting one down. 

10. “I told you so.”

There’s nothing quite like the sting of hearing “I told you so” when you’re already down. It’s like a heavy boot stomping on your misfortune.

Sure, it may feel good to be right, but rubbing it in someone else’s face?

That’s just cruel.

11. “It’s all in your head.”

This phrase can be incredibly damaging, especially when it comes to mental health.

It dismisses a person’s feelings and experiences, making them feel isolated and misunderstood.

Instead of invalidating their struggles, try expressing concern and offering support.

Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not real.

And lastly…

12. “That’s just how I am.”

This phrase is often used as an excuse for bad behavior.

It implies that the person isn’t interested in self-improvement or empathy towards others. It’s a refusal to take responsibility for their actions.

However, we all have the capacity for change and growth.

So instead of shrugging off criticism with “that’s just how I am,” try saying “I will work on that.”

Remember, acknowledging our faults is the first step towards becoming better versions of ourselves.


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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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