I suspect we’ve all put our foot in our mouths at some time or another.
We can say something, and then instantly wish we hadn’t.
That’s not how we intended it to sound, and now the other person has their back up!
We often realize as soon as it leaves our mouths.
But there are some people who seem to do this on repeat, without apparently learning their lesson.
They seem oblivious to what they say and how it lands.
People who lack a filter frequently say these 12 phrases without thinking first.
1) “It’s not my problem”
If someone uses this phrase it shows an unwillingness to help or contribute to finding a solution.
Particularly if they’ve had any part in creating the tricky situation, it also highlights a lack of accountability and responsibility.
They may be trying to communicate that whatever is happening isn’t down to them.
But it is such an unfeeling way of doing so. It lets someone know that you don’t give a damn and they’re on their own.
A far more compassionate way of saying the same thing is “I do feel for you, but I’m not sure what I can do to help”.
2) “That was stupid”
A common feature of people who lack a filter is that they may not realize the emotional impact that their words can have on others.
They blurt out derogatory remarks like this one without thinking.
It’s an observation they make, but not a very helpful one.
The other person usually feels understandably hurt and disrespected.
Having your mistakes rubbed in your face (even if they were pretty stupid) is in no way constructive —as we’ll see with our next phrase too.
3) “I hate to say it, but I told you so”
There is never a situation where this phrase is useful. What good does it do now?!
It only ever serves to massage the ego of the speaker. But it comes at the expense of the other person who is likely already suffering right now.
Let’s face it, they don’t hate to say it at all. Because the fact they are saying it shows they’re displaying no sympathy for the mess you may find yourself in.
They relish saying it.
Highlighting you were wrong and they were right is a way to belittle or mock others when they make a mistake.
Talk about kicking someone when they’re down!
The only likely consequence of using this phrase is animosity within relationships.
4) “Don’t shoot the messenger”
When we’re not emotionally involved with an issue or problem, we can all too quickly forget that someone else is.
Bulldozing in and bluntly giving someone the cold hard facts lacks consideration.
Being the bearer of bad news involves a certain amount of responsibility.
It’s our job to be as sensitive as possible.
We have to apply empathy to do so and think about how we might feel if we were in their shoes.
People are more likely to “shoot the messenger” when the messenger displays zilch thoughtfulness.
5) “Don’t take this the wrong way”
Whenever someone starts a sentence with this phrase, or something similar like “No offense”, you know to brace yourself.
It comes before an unkind or bluntly delivered judgment. It’s an attempt to absolve them of the cruelty in the harsh words they are about to say.
But it doesn’t.
Because the truth is our intentions are not the only thing that matters when we communicate with others. It’s also our responsibility to consider how our words could be interpreted.
Phrases like this suggest we already know what we’re about to say won’t land very well at all, but we’re going to say it anyway.
6) “I wouldn’t be caught dead in that”
This is a good example of how someone lacking any filter may deliver their preferences to others.
It’s essentially just a way of saying “That isn’t my particular taste”.
But instead of using this milder (and far more accurate) description, they go straight to the extreme.
In the process, they may inadvertently trample over someone else’s preferences and tastes.
7) “I hate it”
Such sweeping and extreme judgments are unlikely to ever land well.
What’s more, we rarely mean it.
People use it to highlight their strength of feeling against something, but in 99% of situations, it’s probably unwarranted.
What we probably mean is that it wouldn’t be our personal preference or first choice — that’s clearly not the same thing!
Do you really “hate” your partner’s new shirt that they just bought?
Do you genuinely “hate” the idea your friend just suggested?
It can be incredibly dismissive of others when we misuse such powerful words.
8) “What an idiot”
It’s name-calling, plain and simple.
When we pass harsh and unfair judgment on other people, yet again it’s our ego at play.
This only causes offense and offers absolutely nothing constructive.
What else would we expect to happen?
That the other person would turn around and say:
“Oh wow, thanks for the powerful insight, I’ve learned a lot!”.
No, of course not. We’re only getting people’s back up by hurling insults their way.
It resolves nothing and only serves to create a greater gap between us and them.
But when we’re triggered or lack any filter, the words may come spilling out before we can catch them.
9) “Get over it”
When we’re feeling down, nobody wants to be told that we should cheer up and get over it. Because it’s not that simple.
We can’t turn our emotions on and off in an instant.
This dismissive statement invalidates other peoples’ feelings. It can make someone feel wrong for emotions they cannot control.
It shows not only a lack of sympathy but also fails to acknowledge the complexity of their feelings.
It’s just another way of saying “You’re too sensitive.”
By dismissing someone’s emotions as excessive, it stifles open communication and is more likely to make the other person shut down.
10) “I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal out of it”
This is an insensitive way of trying to shut someone down when they are voicing concern.
Rather than be open to feedback and hearing how someone else has been impacted, they instantly dismiss what you have to say.
This phrase seeks to minimize the significance of an issue or someone’s feelings about it.
11) “You always…” or “You never…”
Much like “hate”, the problem with sweeping statements like “never” and “always” is that they paint too much of an extreme picture.
They are unhelpful generalizations.
They leave no room to appreciate other people’s efforts which can lead to defensiveness and resentment.
They oversimplify complex situations and hinder conflict resolution.
12) “I don’t care what you think!”
If someone is offering up their thoughts, ideas, and opinions this phrase shuts it down in an instant.
There are more tactful ways to handle a difference of opinion.
Saying this reflects a disregard for the other person and demonstrates a total lack of understanding.
Rather than make any effort to consider where they are coming from, this sentence sets their opinions aside. So it’s easy to see how it can quickly lead to conflicts.
Honesty isn’t an excuse for a lack of tact
People who have a habit of saying hurtful things like to hide behind honesty.
After causing offense, they may offer up the excuse:
“I’m just being honest”.
Whilst truthfulness is valuable, it’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card for anti-social behavior.
Part of social intelligence is recognizing that if we are to cooperate and live together successfully, we have to consider others.
Our truth (because the truth is often far more subjective than we like to admit) doesn’t always need to be shared.
Especially when it creates unnecessary damage and pain.
Regardless, how we deliver our message matters.
People who go around offending every time they open their mouths aren’t the truth warriors that they necessarily see themselves as.
Instead, unfiltered speech causes:
- Damaged relationships
- Hurt feelings
- Diminished trust
And, if it becomes habitual, it can even lead to social isolation, because people get tired of it.
If you find yourself frequently having to say “I didn’t mean it like that”, then it may be time for some self-reflection.
It could be that you would benefit from brushing up on your communication skills to learn how to deliver your words more effectively.
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.