If someone uses these 10 subtly insidious phrases, they’re not a very nice person

Ever had a chat with someone and walked away feeling a bit off, but unsure why?

Turns out, some people use certain sneaky phrases that can make us feel down without us even knowing it.

And no, we’re not talking about nasty insults or mean words here. These phrases are way more subtle.

People who use them might even come across as friendly. That’s what makes them so tricky and hurtful.

So, buckle up and let’s uncover these 10 sneaky phrases.

Once we know what they are, they won’t bother us as much!

You ready? Let’s dive in!

1) “I don’t mean to be rude, but…”

We’ve all heard this one before. It’s a classic way for someone to say something not so nice, while pretending they’re just being honest. The truth is, if someone starts a sentence with “I don’t mean to be rude,” there’s a pretty good chance they’re about to be exactly that – rude.

This phrase is a sneaky way for someone to justify their mean words. But let’s be clear: being honest and being rude are not the same thing. Good people understand the difference and always try to speak with kindness and respect.

So next time you hear “I don’t mean to be rude, but…”, remember: it’s not about you. It’s about them and their lack of tact.

2) “No offense, but…”

This is another classic phrase that people use when they want to say something negative. Just like the first phrase, “No offense, but…” is usually followed by something offensive.

The person using this phrase might think that by saying “no offense”, they get a free pass to say whatever they want without hurting your feelings. But guess what? It doesn’t work that way.

If someone has something constructive to say, they don’t need to hide behind phrases like these. Instead, they can express their thoughts in a respectful and considerate way.

3) “Just kidding!”

We all enjoy a good joke, right? But sometimes, people use humor as a disguise for their mean comments. They say something hurtful and then quickly add “Just kidding!” as if it erases the sting of their words.

I remember dealing with someone like this in my own life. A former colleague would often make negative comments about my work, only to follow up with a “Just kidding!” when he saw my reaction. At first, I laughed along, but over time, I realized that his “jokes” were actually affecting my confidence.

It’s important to remember that humor should be fun and uplifting, not used as a tool to put someone else down. 

4) “You’re too sensitive”

Ever heard this phrase when you express your feelings or reactions to something? This is a classic tactic used by people to dismiss your emotions and make you question your responses.

When our emotions are invalidated or dismissed, it can actually lead to an increase in emotional distress and even symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

So, “You’re too sensitive” isn’t just a hurtful phrase—it can also have real psychological impacts.

If someone frequently tells you that you’re too sensitive, it’s not a sign that you’re overly emotional—it’s a sign that they’re failing to respect your feelings.

5) “That’s just how I am”

You might have heard this phrase from someone who refuses to acknowledge the impact of their actions on others. “That’s just how I am” is often used as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for hurtful behavior.

The truth is, we all have the capacity to grow and change. Saying “that’s just how I am” is a way of shutting down the conversation and avoiding personal growth.

Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. If someone uses this phrase to justify treating you poorly, it’s a reflection of their character—not yours.

It’s a heartfelt reminder that we should surround ourselves with people who uplift us, not bring us down.

6) “If I were you…”

This phrase might not seem harmful at first glance. However, it can be a subtle way of undermining your decisions or choices.

I recall a friend who often used this phrase when giving me advice. She’d say, “If I were you, I wouldn’t do that,” or “If I were you, I’d handle it this way.” It began to feel as though she was implying that her choices were better than mine.

Truthfully, no one else is in your shoes. Only you fully understand your feelings, experiences, and circumstances. 

7) “You’re overreacting”

This one hits hard. It’s like a punch to your emotional gut. When someone tells you that you’re overreacting, they’re basically saying that your feelings aren’t valid. That the way you’re processing and responding to a situation isn’t right. And that’s just not fair.

We all have different thresholds for emotions. What might seem like an overreaction to one person could be a completely normal response for another.

Remember this: Your feelings are your own. They’re real and valid, and no one has the right to dismiss them. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise. Period.

8) “You always…” or “You never…”

These phrases are often used to criticize or point out flaws, and they can be pretty damaging. They put you in a box, suggesting that you’re incapable of change.

Using “always” and “never” language increases conflict and pushes people away. It’s called “all-or-nothing” thinking, a cognitive distortion that can poison relationships.

So if someone is constantly hitting you with “You always…” or “You never…”, remember, it’s not a reflection of your ability or worth. It’s just their negative way of expressing dissatisfaction.

9) “You’re just jealous”

This phrase is a classic deflection tactic. It shifts the blame from the speaker’s actions to your supposed jealousy. It’s a way of avoiding responsibility and invalidating your feelings at the same time.

Let’s be real: it’s not jealousy that’s the problem here—it’s their actions.

Have you ever encountered someone use this phrase to dismiss your concerns or feelings? It can be a subtle sign that they are unwilling to address the real issue.

You deserve respect and understanding, not deflection and blame.

10) “You’ll never understand”

This one is tough. It’s a phrase that shuts down communication and creates a barrier between you and the other person.

It suggests that you’re incapable of empathy or understanding, which can be incredibly hurtful.

The raw truth is, we all have the capacity for understanding if given the chance.


Each of these phrases can be subtly harmful in their own way.

But remember, the person using them is revealing more about their character than they are about yours.

You’re worth more than these words, so don’t let them bring you down!

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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