1. “This is awkward.”
It doesn’t matter if you walked in on somebody naked, accidentally blurted out a secret, or dropped your friend’s baby. No matter how awkward a scenario you find yourself in, pointing out the awkwardness just increases it tenfold. It’s not a cute, quirky way to break the tension. It’s like throwing oily rags onto a grease fire.
2. “Well, actually…”
You may find that during the course of a conversation, somebody says something that you know to be false. An unsubstantiated “fact” or a nonsensical opinion that everyone else nods along with, and you suddenly realize it’s up to you to set the record straight. But however well-intentioned your correction, if you begin it with these two words, then anything you say afterwards just sounds like “I’m an asshole.”
3. “We need to talk.”
You drop this one on your significant other as you head out the door. In your mind, you’ve done them a kindness. Now they have all day to compose themselves and get ready for a mature, adult discussion about whatever’s wrong.
NOPE. Nope, now they have all day to work themselves up into an anxious frenzy wondering how badly they messed up. There are a hundred possibilities that could turn out to be your problem, and they’re going to go nuts reviewing every single one. Instead of warning them that there was something you needed to say, why couldn’t you just… say it?
This is specific to texting, but it still counts. If you’re pissed off, bored, confused, or whatever, say so. But “k.” is the most passive aggressive cop-out in the world. It conveys that something is in fact not OK, and it implies that somehow it’s the other person’s fault. And now you expect them to try to figure out what’s wrong with you, with one letter of the alphabet to go on? Come on. You’re better than that.
5. “Calm down!”
Why would that ever be a reasonable thing to say, ever? If someone is so upset that you feel it’s warranted to tell them to calm down, they’re too upset for it to work. All you’ve done now is invalidate their feelings, sound smug, and turn that upset up to eleven. Nice job.
*Previously published by Thought Catalog at www.thoughtcatalog.com.