People who lack emotional intelligence frequently say these 10 phrases without realizing their impact

Understanding and managing our emotions is a vital aspect of successfully interacting with others. It’s called emotional intelligence.

However, not everyone has a good grasp of it, which sometimes leads to verbal blunders that can have quite an impact without them even realizing.

I’m going to highlight 10 phrases often used by those who lack emotional intelligence, bringing to light their unintended consequences.

Let’s get started. 

1) “Calm down”

One thing emotionally intelligent people understand is the value of empathy, particularly when it comes to addressing someone who’s upset.

However, those lacking emotional intelligence often resort to phrases like “Calm down” when faced with a distraught individual.

While it might seem like a logical suggestion, it often comes across as dismissive and can escalate the situation instead of defusing it. It invalidates the person’s feelings and can make them feel unheard or misunderstood.

The impact of this phrase is often the exact opposite of its intent. It’s far more effective to acknowledge their feelings and show understanding.

Saying something like, “I understand why you’re upset,” can go a long way towards calming a tense situation.

2) “I’m just being honest”

I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of this one myself. When you’re trying to provide feedback or express your thoughts, it can be easy to lead with “I’m just being honest.”

But here’s the thing, this phrase can often be perceived as a veiled insult or a way to justify rudeness. It’s like giving yourself a free pass to say something hurtful under the guise of honesty.

I remember once telling a friend, “I’m just being honest, I didn’t really enjoy the meal you cooked”. While my intent was to provide constructive feedback, it only ended up hurting my friend’s feelings and creating an awkward situation.

A more emotionally intelligent approach would have been to give my feedback in a more sensitive and considerate way. Something like, “The meal was good, but perhaps next time we could try adding a bit more spices?”

Learning to express honesty without causing unnecessary harm is a key aspect of emotional intelligence.

3) “That’s not my problem”

This phrase, “That’s not my problem,” is a clear sign of a lack of emotional intelligence. It shows a disregard for others’ issues and a lack of empathy.

However, in the world of bats, there’s an interesting behavioral study that shows a stark contrast to this phrase. Bats are known to share food with their sick or hungry companions, demonstrating a high level of empathy and understanding.

In our human interactions, responding with understanding and empathy can build stronger relationships.

Instead of saying “That’s not my problem,” consider offering help or at least an ear to listen. It can make all the difference.

4) “It’s just a joke”

Have you ever heard someone pass off a hurtful comment or an inappropriate remark as “just a joke”? It’s a classic example of an emotionally unintelligent phrase.

This phrase is often used to deflect responsibility for the impact of one’s words. It undermines the feelings of the person who might be hurt or offended by the comment.

Instead, an emotionally intelligent person would take responsibility for their words, apologize if they caused offence and strive to avoid making similar remarks in the future.

We need to remember that humor at the expense of others can often lead to hurt feelings, even if that wasn’t the intention.

5) “I don’t care”

Saying “I don’t care” can be a clear red flag of lacking emotional intelligence. While it’s perfectly fine not to have a preference or opinion on every matter, expressing it as “I don’t care” can come off as dismissive or indifferent.

This phrase can shut down communication and give an impression that you’re not interested in what the other person has to say. It creates a barrier in the conversation and can make the other person feel unvalued.

Instead, try saying something like, “I don’t have a strong preference, what do you think?” This conveys your lack of preference without dismissing the other person’s perspective or input.

6) “You always…” or “You never…”

These absolute phrases can be extremely damaging in relationships. They can make the other person feel criticized and defensive, hindering productive communication.

When we use “always” or “never” in an argument, it’s often an exaggeration and not a true reflection of reality. It oversimplifies the issue and doesn’t leave room for understanding or growth.

Instead of saying, “You never help with the housework,” a more emotionally intelligent phrase would be, “I’ve noticed I’ve been doing most of the housework lately, could we discuss a more balanced approach?”

By being specific and avoiding absolutes, we open up the conversation for understanding and compromise, fostering healthier relationships.

7) “Whatever”

The phrase “whatever” has often been a part of my own conversations, especially when I was younger. It’s a word that’s easy to throw around when you’re frustrated, tired, or simply not in the mood for a discussion.

However, I’ve come to realize that “whatever” can be a harmful dismissal of someone else’s thoughts or feelings. It can signal indifference and a lack of respect for the other person’s point of view.

Over time, I’ve learned to replace “whatever” with phrases that show I’m still engaged in the conversation, even if I’m not in total agreement. Saying something along the lines of “I see where you’re coming from,” can keep communication lines open and show respect for differing opinions.

8) “I know”

It might seem strange, but the phrase “I know” can sometimes reveal a lack of emotional intelligence. While it’s natural to want to show that we understand or that we’re knowledgeable, overusing the phrase can come across as dismissive or arrogant.

It can shut down opportunities for learning and growth. After all, no one knows everything, and there’s always room for gaining new insights or perspectives.

Instead of jumping in with an “I know”, try responding with “That’s an interesting point,” or “I hadn’t thought of it that way before.” This shows you’re open-minded and willing to engage in meaningful dialogue.

9) “I don’t need your help”

While it’s important to be self-reliant, refusing help with an “I don’t need your help” can actually indicate a lack of emotional intelligence. It can come across as prideful or standoffish and can deter people from offering their assistance in the future.

Accepting help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a recognition that we all have strengths and weaknesses, and there’s no shame in leaning on others when needed.

Instead of refusing outright, consider saying, “Thank you for offering. I’ll let you know if I need any assistance.” It shows appreciation for the gesture and keeps the lines of communication open.

10) “It’s all your fault”

Blaming others with phrases like “It’s all your fault” is perhaps the most telling sign of lacking emotional intelligence. It shifts responsibility and fails to acknowledge our own role in a situation.

Nobody is perfect, and mistakes happen. But pointing fingers doesn’t resolve the issue at hand.

A better approach would be to say, “Let’s figure out how we can avoid this in the future.” This encourages problem-solving and maintains respect and fairness in the conversation. It reminds us that we’re all human, and that’s okay.

Final thoughts: It’s all about growth

The journey of emotional intelligence isn’t a smooth one. It’s filled with bumps, twists, and turns. Yet, it’s an essential part of our human experience and our interactions with others.

Understanding the impact of our words is a significant step in this journey. The phrases we’ve discussed are not inherently wrong, but their frequent misuse can hinder our relationships and growth.

Remember, every conversation is an opportunity to learn and improve. So next time you catch yourself using one of these phrases, take a moment. Reflect on what you’re saying and how it might be received.

After all, as the renowned psychologist Carl Rogers once said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

Becoming aware of our shortcomings is the first step towards meaningful change. So let’s embrace this journey of growth together, one conversation at a time.

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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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