18 Common Phrases to Avoid in Conversation. (Annoying ad warning) Okay, first of all, don’t ever tell me what to say or how to say it because I am your elder (He said so.) and I know more about these things than you do. Um, anyway… the “right thing to say” depends a lot on who you’re talking to. If you know the person well you probably already know what you should and should not say to them based on their personal hot buttons and if they know you they are used to your speech habits and will usually know what you’re really trying to say when you repeat a common phrase.
The first one in the list is absolutely wrong. They suggest, instead of saying, “You look tired, say “Is everything okay?. I would much rather have someone say to me “You look tired,” than ask me “Is everything okay?” When you ask a question you are putting the person you’re speaking to on the spot to come up with an answer. If everything is not okay they might not want to share. If everything is okay they’ll wonder why on Earth you would ask such a question and think you’re weird and creepy. If you don’t want to say, “You look tired,” you could just stick with the standard, “How are you?” Yes, it’s a question but it’s so common it’s a non-question. It doesn’t demand much in the way of an answer but leaves an opening in case the person you’re asking has more to say than, “Fine.”
The next two, “Wow, you’ve lost a ton of weight!” and You look good for your age,” I would have to agree that you should not say. Of course, if you know the person very well, maybe you know it’s okay to say these things to that person but generally avoid any specific comments about a person’s appearance.
I will completely skip the next two sections, What Not to Say in the Workplace and What Not to Say During a Job Interview because corporate-speak is mostly silly and makes me tired and because it’s still possible that I might someday need a job.
Next is What Not to Say About Pregnancy and Babies. Oh, yes, absolutely right! If you don’t know her, Don’t! Say! Anything! That bears repeating: Don’t! Say! Anything! I have two kids, both grown now, and the one and only thing I hated about being pregnant was that casual acquaintances and even complete strangers thought they had the right to walk up to me and ask very personal questions. And always the same questions. Even if I didn’t mind answering the question once or twice it got really old having to answer it several times a day. The same goes for babies. Just because babies are cute does not mean they are public property. If you just can’t resist, a simple, “What a cute baby,” or the like, would probably be okay but, believe it or not, parents get tired of even this after the first hundred or so times we hear it. Sometimes parents would just rather be left alone with their new little person.
Next is What Not to Say to a Single or Newly Single Person. I think this one entirely depends on how well you know the person and their situation but obviously you should be sensitive to other people’s feelings. Above all don’t think of being single as if it were a disease and don’t make assumptions that could lead you to embarrass yourself.
In What Not to Say During a Fight With Your Beloved, some of the “say this instead” suggestions seem a little too psycho-babble for my taste. If your beloved hates psycho-babble using these kind of phrases could actually make them more angry. Listen, I’ve been married for over 30 years – yes, to the same person – and I know a thing or two. The way to not fight is to simply not fight. I know that sounds ridiculous but most of the time it really is that simple. Just stop. Think. How important is the thing you’re about to complain about, really? Don’t like his dirty socks on the floor? Pick them up your own damn self! It’s not that important. Just because something annoys you doesn’t mean it’s important. Get over yourself. That doesn’t mean you should never complain. Maybe your partner would like to know what bothers you. Just don’t overdo it and whatever it is, say it politely but not in a psycho-babbly way. Say it the way you would want him to say it to you.
That last thing goes for the whole list. Always be polite and whatever you say, think how you would like for someone to say that to you.