People with poor social skills often mention these 7 phrases without realizing their impact

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Navigating social interaction is not everyone’s strong suit. Some folks, unintentionally, can say things that might rub people the wrong way.

These phrases are often mentioned innocently, with no malice intended. But they can still cause a rift in communication, or worse, hurt someone’s feelings.

So, let’s take a look at some of these phrases. If you realize you’ve been saying some of these yourself, now’s your opportunity to check yourself and swap them out for better phrases.

1) “You always…”

When it comes to social interaction, absolute terms can be a slippery slope.

People with poor social skills often lean on phrases that start with “You always…” or “You never…”. These phrases are typically used in an accusatory manner, which can put the other person on the defensive.

Here’s the deal- no one likes to be boxed in. And these absolute terms might make people feel like their actions are being generalized, without considering the nuances of different situations.

The unfortunate thing is that the speaker might not even realize the negative impact these words can have. They may just be expressing their feelings or observations, but the choice of words can turn a simple conversation into a confrontation.

Rather than using these words, describe specific situations and how they make you feel.

For example, instead of saying “You always arrive late”, say “When you tell me you’ll be here at 6pm but you come at 7pm, I feel frustrated and disrespected. This has happened several times. I wonder if you can do something about that?”

2) “It’s just a joke…”

I remember once when I was in a group setting, there was a colleague of mine who had a knack for making off-the-cuff remarks. He would often say something sarcastic or slightly offensive and then quickly follow it up with “It’s just a joke…”

It was clear to me and others that his intent wasn’t to hurt feelings, but the impact of his words wasn’t always taken lightly. Some people laughed along, but others were clearly uncomfortable.

The use of “It’s just a joke…” can sometimes be an attempt to downplay the impact of what’s been said. But the truth is, humor is subjective. What’s funny for one person can be hurtful or offensive to another.

People with poor social skills may not fully grasp this concept and could end up alienating others without even realizing it. It’s always important to be mindful of our words and how they might be received by others.

3) “No offense, but…”

The phrase “No offense, but…” is a common one that often gets thrown around in conversations. The irony is that it’s usually followed by a statement that’s likely to cause offense.

While people may use this phrase hoping it’ll soften the blow of what comes next, it often has the opposite effect.

When people hear “no offense, but…” they’re more likely to brace themselves for the offensive remark that’s about to be made, leading to increased tension.

So while the intent might be to minimize the negative impact of a statement, it can actually amplify it. Instead, make sure to phrase a comment in a way that it is polite and respectful enough to not need this phrase.

4) “I know how you feel…”

Empathy is a powerful tool in connecting with others. However, the phrase “I know how you feel…” can sometimes miss the mark.

While the intent is to show understanding and sympathy, it can come across as presumptuous and dismissive of the other person’s unique experience.

After all, each person’s feelings and experiences are their own, and assuming we can fully understand them can unintentionally minimize their pain.

Even people with poor social skills may use this phrase with the best intentions, wanting to comfort and connect. But it’s essential to realize that sometimes, it’s more helpful to simply listen and acknowledge the other person’s feelings without trying to compare or relate them to our own.

5) “It’s not a big deal…”

A couple of years ago, I was going through a tough time and shared my struggles with a friend. His immediate response was, “It’s not a big deal…”

While he may have been trying to help me see the bigger picture or lessen my worries, it made me feel like my feelings weren’t valid.

This phrase can unintentionally belittle someone’s feelings or experiences. No matter how insignificant the issue may seem to us, it’s important to remember that it might be a big deal to the other person. 

6) “Calm down…”

The phrase “Calm down…” is often used with the intention to defuse a heated situation. However, you may know from experience that it can have the opposite effect.

When someone is upset or emotional, hearing “calm down…” might feel dismissive of their feelings. It can give the impression that their reaction is unjustified or overblown, which could escalate the situation further.

It’s usually more helpful to acknowledge the other person’s feelings and try to understand why they’re upset. Showing empathy and patience can go a long way.

7) “But I was just being honest…”

“Honesty is the best policy” is a common adage, but sometimes, brutal honesty can do more harm than good. “But I was just being honest…” is a phrase often used to justify harsh words or criticism.

While transparency is important, it’s crucial to remember that there’s a fine line between being honest and being hurtful.

Constructive criticism is one thing, but blunt comments without regard for the other person’s feelings can be damaging.

People with poor social skills might hide behind this phrase without realizing its impact.

The key takeaway? Always pair honesty with kindness and respect. It’s not just about what we say, but also how we say it.

Reflecting on the impact

Human interaction is a complex dance of words, body language, and emotions. It’s a delicate balance and one misstep can change the entire rhythm.

The phrases we’ve discussed are often used innocently, without understanding the potential impact they can have on others. The truth is, communication is not just what we mean, but also how it’s received.

As George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” It’s our responsibility to ensure our words align with our intentions, and that we’re not just speaking, but connecting.

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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