If you frequently use these 9 phrases, people will quickly lose respect for you

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There’s a thin line between being assertive and being offensive.

The difference lies in your choice of words.

Often, we say things that disrespect others without even realizing it. Using the wrong phrases can quickly strip away respect, even if your intentions are good.

Trust me, certain phrases have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve.

These 9 phrases can make people lose respect for you, fast!

1) “It’s not my fault”

In all walks of life, taking responsibility is a sign of maturity and respect.

However, when we’re in the hot seat, it can be tempting to pass the blame onto someone or something else.

The phrase, “It’s not my fault,” is a common escape route.

But here’s the thing – it’s a path that leads straight to a loss of respect.

Why? Passing the buck shows a lack of accountability, and it can paint you as someone who cannot own up to their mistakes.

Sure, there are situations where you’re not the one to blame. But rather than saying, “It’s not my fault,” consider a more responsible approach.

Acknowledge the issue, and if there’s something you could have done better, own it.

If it was someone else’s mistake, address it constructively without blaming. This shift in phraseology can make a world of difference in how people perceive and respect you.

Honesty is always the best policy if you want to maintain respect.

2) “I don’t have time for this”

Life can get pretty hectic.

I’ve got a full-time job, a family to look after, and a home to maintain. There’s always something that needs my attention.

However, there’s one phrase I’ve learned to avoid – “I don’t have time for this”.

This phrase is a quick way to lose respect.

It gives off the impression that you’re not willing to prioritize the other person or their concerns. It makes them feel insignificant.

When my 7-year-old son wanted to show me his latest Lego creation, and I was swamped with work? I almost said, “I don’t have time for this,” but then I saw the excitement in his eyes.

Instead, I took a moment, admired his creation, and saw the pride in his eyes.

That five-minute break didn’t derail my work, but it made a world of difference to him.

In professional settings too, replace “I don’t have time for this” with phrases like, “Can we schedule a time to discuss this further?” or “Let’s come back to this later”.

It shows respect for others’ ideas and concerns while still managing your own time effectively.

It’s about striking a balance.

After all, respect is earned by giving it first.

3) “At least…”

We often use the phrase “At least…” with good intentions, usually trying to find a silver lining or make someone feel better about a situation.

However, this phrase can inadvertently minimize the person’s feelings or struggles.

For instance, if someone loses their job and you respond with, “At least you have more time for yourself now,” it might seem like you’re dismissing their worries about financial security or career growth.

Researchers in psychology have found that this type of response falls under a category called ‘dismissive positivity’.

It doesn’t validate the person’s feelings and instead, imposes a positive spin that they may not be ready to see or accept.

A more respectful approach is to acknowledge their feelings without trying to paint a rosy picture.

Phrases like, “I’m sorry to hear that. How are you holding up?” show empathy and respect.

Sometimes people just need to be heard.

4) “You’re wrong”

Disagreements are a part of life. We all have different perspectives, and that’s what makes life interesting.

However, how we express our disagreements can make or break our relationships.

The phrase “You’re wrong” is a quick path to losing someone’s respect. It’s blunt, dismissive, and shuts down any room for discussion.

This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything someone says.

But there is a more respectful way to disagree.

Instead of saying “You’re wrong,” how about trying phrases like “I see where you’re coming from, but have you considered…” or “That’s an interesting perspective.

Here’s another way to look at it…”

These alternative phrases show that you respect the other person’s viewpoint, even if you don’t agree with it.

It keeps the conversation open and respectful, which is essential in maintaining healthy relationships.

5) “Whatever”

We’ve all probably used this phrase at some point, often when we’re frustrated or tired of an argument.

However, “whatever” can come across as dismissive and disrespectful.

It sends the message that you don’t care enough to engage in the conversation anymore. It shows a lack of interest in the other person’s thoughts or feelings.

Instead of shutting down a conversation with “whatever,” try to express your feelings more openly and honestly.

You could say, “I’m feeling frustrated right now and need some time to think,” or “Let’s take a break and talk about this later.”

Open communication is key to maintaining respect in any relationship. Your words matter – choose them wisely.

6) “You always” or “You never”

The phrases “You always” and “You never” can deal a heavy blow to relationships.

These absolute terms can come across as an attack on the person’s character, rather than a critique of their actions.

Imagine hearing, “You never listen to me” or “You always forget important dates”.

It feels like a direct hit, doesn’t it?

It makes the person defensive and less likely to address the issue at hand.

Instead, express how their actions affect you and how you feel.

For instance, you could say, “I feel unheard when I’m talking, and it’s important to me that we understand each other,” or “When important dates are forgotten, I feel unappreciated.”

After all, respect is rooted in understanding and kindness.

7) “I told you so”

Nobody likes to be reminded of their mistakes, especially in a gloating manner.

The phrase “I told you so” can feel like rubbing salt into a wound, and it’s a surefire way to lose someone’s respect.

I recall a situation where a friend made a decision I didn’t agree with. Sure enough, things didn’t work out as they’d hoped.

It was tempting to say, “I told you so,” but I knew that it wouldn’t be helpful or comforting.

Instead, I chose to empathize and offered my support to help them through the situation.

Phrases like “That must be tough for you” or “How can I support you?” were much more appreciated and preserved the respect between us.

Life is about learning from our mistakes. 

It goes a long way in maintaining respect and strengthening bonds.

8) “Calm down”

When emotions are running high, the phrase “calm down” can have the exact opposite effect.

It can come across as dismissive and invalidating of the other person’s feelings.

Instead of helping, it often escalates the situation because it conveys that their emotional response is not valid or acceptable.

A more respectful approach would be to acknowledge their feelings and show understanding.

You could say, “I can see you’re really upset,” or “This is important to you.”

By doing this, you’re validating their emotions and showing respect for their feelings. It creates a safer and more respectful environment for open communication. 

Empathy is a cornerstone of respect.

9) “Because that’s how it’s always been done”

This phrase is a respect-killer in both personal and professional environments.

It discourages innovation and implies that the person suggesting a new idea or approach doesn’t understand the status quo.

In reality, growth and progress happen when we challenge existing methods and consider fresh perspectives.

Instead of shutting down new ideas with “Because that’s how it’s always been done,” try encouraging a culture of open-mindedness and creativity.

Phrases like “That’s an interesting idea, let’s explore it” or “I appreciate your fresh perspective on this” can foster respect and mutual growth.

Respect is not just about how we treat each other, but also how we treat ideas and change.

Be open, be curious, and you’ll be respected.

Words are the mirror to respect

The power of language in shaping our interactions and relationships is undeniable.

Words can build bridges or create chasms, depending on how we use them.

The phrases we’ve discussed aren’t just about etiquette or politeness. They touch upon a fundamental human need – respect.

By being mindful of our words, we can cultivate and sustain respect in our relationships.

Respect isn’t a commodity to be demanded – it’s an emotion to be earned.

And the currency for earning it? Thoughtful, empathetic, and respectful communication.

Choose your words wisely, and you’ll see respect being mirrored back to you.

In essence, the language of respect begins with us – with our words, our attitudes, and our willingness to see others as they are.

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.

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