Being naturally tactful means you have social skills that help you notice and respond to others in a respectful and caring way.
In a world where being tactful is an essential skill, we can learn a lot from these types of people.
So without delay, let’s see what things naturally tactful people avoid saying to others.
1) “It’s not my problem”
When someone comes to you with an issue, and you simply tell them it’s not your problem, it’s the easiest thing to say, isn’t it?
But this is basically saying FU to them but in a much nicer language.
Adults should never avoid responsibility for their actions or when someone comes to them asking for help.
I always refer to the Golden Rule on these occasions. If the roles were reversed, what would I like to hear?
2) “I told you so”
The same goes for saying, “I told you so,” when someone makes a mistake.
Rubbing mistakes in someone’s face is incredibly unsupportive and mean and makes them less likely to seek help or advice from you in the future.
Did you never make a mistake before? Would you like to hear “I told you so” to your face at that moment? Of course not.
That’s why naturally tactful people would never say that to someone.
3) “You look tired/old/fat”
We’re all very sensitive to comments about our physical appearance, aren’t we? A nasty comment can ruin not just our day but our whole self-image.
At the end of the day, making negative comments about someone’s appearance can be incredibly hurtful and contribute to self-esteem problems.
For some, hearing a(nother) negative comment about their appearance could be the final straw. They could either take it as a kick in the butt to turn their life around, or they could give up altogether. Or worse.
You never know, and it’s one of the reasons not to comment on others’ physical appearance.
4) “You’re overreacting”
Now, while I do admit people these days get offended all the time, that doesn’t mean we should walk on eggshells around others. But it also doesn’t mean we should purposefully offend them.
Minimizing someone’s emotions makes them feel invalidated and discouraged from sharing their feelings.
Tactful people avoid saying, “You’re overreacting,” because they understand that emotions are subjective and unique to each person.
5) “You always…” or “You never…”
Making sweeping generalizations isn’t just unfair and inaccurate. It also leads to defensiveness and probably doesn’t accurately reflect the person’s behavior.
Saying “You always…” or “You never…” implies the person is either always doing something positive or never doing something negative.
That doesn’t make sense because no one is that uniform.
Here are some examples:
Instead of saying, “You always leave the dishes in the sink,” a tactful person might say, “I noticed the dishes in the sink today. Can we talk about how we can both keep the kitchen tidy?”
Or, instead, “You never listen to me,” a tactful person would say, “I feel unheard sometimes. Can we find a way to improve our communication?”
6) “That’s a stupid idea”
I’ve heard many stupid ideas from people. I also had even more of them. Some stayed deep in my mind, while others crossed my lips.
If I got heavily criticized for every idea I had, I wouldn’t be anywhere in my life. That’s because criticizing without constructive feedback shuts down creativity and leads to self-doubt.
A tactful friend, family member, or colleague would never just bark, “That’s a stupid idea” at you. If they have any sense in them, they’d tell you why they don’t like it. But they’d do so respectfully, of course.
7) “You’re too sensitive” or “You’re too emotional”
Telling someone they’re too sensitive or emotional completely dismisses their emotions and implies they’re wrong for feeling a certain way.
We, of course, know that it’s usually men saying this to women. But it might be even worse when it’s vice versa, as it perpetuates the image of men as people that shouldn’t have emotions or feelings at all.
When you invalidate someone’s emotions, it causes them to suppress their feelings and often negatively impacts their mental health.
Naturally, a tactful person would never say something like that.
8) “I don’t care”
Similar to “It’s not my problem,” “I don’t care” is also insensitive, hurtful and damages the trust and bond between individuals.
What do we communicate with this expression? That we lack interest or concern about the other person’s feelings, opinions, or experiences.
9) “Why can’t you be more like…”
It’s never nice to hear the old “Why can’t you be more like…” is it?
When people compare us to others, it puts unnecessary pressure and leads to feelings of inadequacy.
Unfortunately, parents often use this phrase on children, perhaps not knowing how damaging it can be.
10) “That’s not important”
Saying “That’s not important” makes others feel unimportant and undervalued. It’s also another statement that dismisses someone’s concerns.
It discourages them from sharing their thoughts and feelings in the future, which can create emotional distance.
Instead of using dismissive language, tactful people take a more considerate approach. They actively listen, acknowledge their feelings and perspectives, and respond with empathy and respect.
Even if they don’t fully understand or agree with the other person’s viewpoint, they avoid belittling or demeaning them.
11) “You’re being dramatic”
“You’re being dramatic” typically follows when someone expresses strong emotions about something or someone.
Emotions are a natural and essential part of being human. Calling someone “dramatic” sends a message that their feelings aren’t genuine or worthy of consideration.
We aren’t even considering their experience or the root cause of their emotional response.
A tactful person would never call someone that but would instead try to understand where they’re coming from to make bold and emotional statements like that.
12) “I don’t have time for this”
Just like “It’s not my problem,” and “I don’t care,” “I don’t have time for this” is another easy “fix” for not extending a helpful or understanding hand to someone.
When you’re that impatient, you make the other person feel like a burden and decrease their willingness to share.
A naturally tactful person would say something like, “I want to be here for you, but I’m currently in the middle of something important. Can we find a better time to talk?”
13) “You should have known better”
Shaming someone for their choices doesn’t help them grow and only leads to a defensive response.
“You should have known better” is basically the same as saying, “I told you so,” isn’t it?
But naturally tactful people understand that circumstances and contexts play a significant role in decision-making.
Instead of assuming someone should’ve known better, they take into account many factors that might have influenced the person’s choices.
Besides, making mistakes is natural and a great opportunity to learn and grow.
14) “You’re just being lazy”
“You’re just being lazy” is something I imagine rich people say to those that haven’t “made it“ yet. Or something older generations say to young people struggling to make ends meet.
But accusing someone of laziness oversimplifies the situation and ignores potential underlying factors. Making assumptions based on a single observation is incredibly misleading.
Tactful people know everyone faces unique challenges and obstacles in life. Instead of simply attributing someone’s lack of effort to laziness, they take the time to understand the issues that are affecting them.
15) “That’s impossible”
I never liked hearing this phrase. Sure, it may seem impossible to you, but that’s only because you have a very narrow worldview.
Declaring something as impossible can crush someone’s enthusiasm and determination to achieve their goals.
Just because you can’t imagine something happening doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Think about that for a moment.
16) “That’s none of your business”
“That’s none of your business” comes across as rude, dismissive, and intrusive. There are better ways to deflect, decline, or redirect personal questions.
- “I prefer not to discuss that right now.” (Deflecting)
- “I appreciate your concern, but I’d rather keep that private.” (Setting boundaries)
- “I’d rather not get into the details.” (Politely declining)
- “It’s a personal matter I’d rather not go into.” (Acknowledging but not giving any more details)
Responding defensively to a personal question quickly creates a barrier in the relationship and discourages open communication. It’s also extremely awkward.
It’s not so difficult being tactful after all, is it? We don’t have to behave like some recent US presidents.
Being polite and tactful is still an incredible virtue that isn’t going away anytime soon.