Why Do We Say It?

>> Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I have a lot of random thoughts in my head tonight -- no cohesive stories. (Sorry!) So I thought I'd take a few moments to share with you some of the things people commonly say that I find a little bit ... silly.

"A.S.A.P." used to be shorthand for "As soon as possible." Apparently we are all too busy to say that now, so we all say "Asap."

When I was working, I used to get a lot of notes about protocol from various HR folks and office managers written as "gentle reminders". Um ... just because you call something "gentle" doesn't mean it is, and does it really help to send a note "gently" reminding people that speaker phones are loud and you should close your door when you use one?

Whenever something painful or bad (but not devastating or life threatening) occurs, why do people assume you want to hear about something worse? For example, when I stepped on a magnetic letter from my kid's collection, why does someone feel the need to say, "If it makes you feel better, legos hurt even worse." Thanks, but seriously, your words did nothing to ease the pain in my instep.

Why do we feel compelled to share all sorts of horrible labor stories with pregnant women? "Oh, you're due in January. My sister has this 72 hour labor ...." I mean, don't you think they have enough on their minds?

Does your guard go up as soon as you hear the words, "Don't take this personally, but ...." And when someone says it, is there usually any way to take it OTHER than personally? It's like saying, "Don't take this personally, but you really smell bad." How else are you supposed to take it? If I am the one who smells bad, what isn't personal about that? (Just to keep my record clear, I don't recall anyone ever telling me I smell bad ... although I've said it to Toddler a few times so I imagine my mother did once or twice when I was very young.)

And then there is the "No offense" comment. I can almost understand it in the case of BO in the prior example, but most of the time this saying is as much garbage as reminding someone "gently," and often masks a hostile intent. The words mean absolutely nothing other than a very transparent excuse to say something you know you shouldn't say without feeling the need to apologize for it afterward.

My all time favorite saying, though, is, "God wouldn't give you these challenges if you weren't so strong." You've got to love this one. Now, I don't intend to insult anyone's faith (and if I have, I'm sorry and "no offense"), but this pat phrase seems silly at best. You are just inviting the person to respond, "So if I were a weaker person, God would have been nicer? Well, bring on the lethargy and the booze then! If this is how God rewards strength, then I'll degenerate quickly. Thank you very much for the tip."

Ahh, yes. After sticking my own foot in my mouth more times than I can count (and more every week) I have drawn this conclusion. The world would be a nicer place if we all counted to 5 and thought carefully before we opened our mouths to speak.


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