15 More of the Worst Things to Say in Conversation
Part 2: Certain statements can ruin a conversation.
Posted August 13, 2019 | Reviewed by Gary Drevitch
We all struggle with what is the right thing and what is the wrong thing to say in conversation. Sometimes conversations feel wonderful and satisfying, but other times they are frustrating and even hurtful. Do you know that sinking feeling you get when a friend or colleague says something that simply feels wrong? Well, consider that you, too, may at times make others feel the same way.
About a month ago, I shared an post about the 18 worst things to say in conversation. I heard from many of you about several more things that send conversations in the wrong direction and leave everyone feeling upset, irritated, or simply misunderstood or not cared about.
In an attempt to further this conversation about how to avoid putting one's foot in one's mouth, I will share 15 more statements that are best avoided and will explain why these comments fail to reach anyone's sweet spot.
1. You look fine.
2. Don't worry. It's fine.
We have all been on the receiving end of these comments. We are most likely looking for reassurance and instead we are told that whatever we are concerned about is fine. These comments are particularly annoying because what they really convey is that your conversation partner is not really that interested in your question and is more interested in moving on. Ouch. No one feels good after hearing that whatever they have done or how they look is simply "fine." "Fine" is pretty unconvincing, right?
3. I don't know how you do it.
4. I'm not sure that I could do that.
Let's say that you have a child with challenges or a parent with dementia. Someone then evaluates your situation and declares that they simply wouldn't be up for the challenge. I have heard from many of you who have been on the receiving end of these comments. You all agree that this comment really means, "I'm glad that it's you, not me." Some things are better left unsaid.
5. I'm sorry you took it that way.
6. It's all in your head.
7. I'm sorry that bothers you.
Unfortunately, these comments are a more socially acceptable way of saying that the speaker doesn't really care about your feelings. But they are certainly not empathic statements; they are invalidating.
8. I'm sure it's nothing.
9. Everything will be okay.
10. I'm sure it will work out.
Really? The other person has a crystal ball? These are not reassuring comments. In fact, they are dismissive. Simply listening is a better alternative than offering these comments.
11. I'm sorry. I don't remember you.
You have met the person several times. It feels like they are really telling you that you are simply not memorable.
12. You look good for your age.
13. Back when you were young and attractive...
14. We are all old now. Let's face it.
These are all insensitive comments about aging. And they are unnecessary. Since you really don't know how the other person is dealing with aging, avoid these comments.
15. I'm done.
I believe that this is another way of saying "I'm currently disgusted." My suggestion is that one should be clear. "I'm done" is ambiguous and we are all uncomfortable with ambiguity, right?