by Kyle Perkins
The past couple years have presented me many opportunities to reflect on the ways we interact as people, and how some of the things we say can have an immensely different impact than we intended. This is also a shameless plug for one of my favorite books. If you haven’t at least skimmed through Maura Cullen’s 35 Dumb Things Well-Intentioned People Say, I recommend you close out of this blog post, head over to amazon, and consider the purchase! I’ve provided a very short list of potential conversational missteps for you to think on you so you can have more successful interactions with other humans if you so choose! Below I’ve listed my top 3(+1) conversational no-no’s and some recommendations on how to respond!
1) “You’re going to be fine!” / “That’s not so bad!”
Yikes! We all know you mean well, you just want them to feel better about a difficult situation they might be facing. Unfortunately, this almost never actually helps, but rather just shuts down your conversation. If I come to you to tell you about a grade I’m not happy with, I don’t want you to tell me “that’s not so bad!” I want you to tell me how much it sucks that I’m not happy with my grade and then buy me ice cream, obviously.
2) “I know exactly what you mean!”
The moral of the story with this statement is that there’s absolute no way you could know exactly what they mean! You may have heard a small part of their story, but you can’t possibly imagine the entirety of someone else’s lived experiences. Consider saying something like: “I can see where your coming from” and follow up by asking for more information! Nothing shows you care like “Can you tell me more about that?”.
3) “I’m soooo busy!”
One of my personal college pet peeves. I’ll share a big secret with all of you… we’re all pretty busy! While I don’t want to devalue your experience of being busy (Feel free to tell me about how tired you are! That’s definitely still a thing!), don’t throw around being “too busy” as an excuse not to fulfill responsibilities or spend time with people who care about you! Chances are they’re busy too and you’ll just frustrate them further. My personal response to someone telling me that they’re too busy to come to lunch/hall events/neat lectures is pulling out a paper copy of my schedule, to do list, and calendar, proving to them that I am also too busy, and then proceeding to drag them along with me while ignoring their complaints entirely.
the extra one) “No, I don’t have a dog…”
This one pretty much speaks for itself. If you find yourself tempted to say this, I recommend immediately getting a dog (or like 15) and loving it more than anything else in the world. Also invite me over to become its best friend… Just saying.