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The Phrase You Should Never Say That Makes People Turn Away From You

The Phrase You Should Never Say That Makes People Turn Away From You

“Yes…but” is a common phrase used by many people, however, it should readily be avoided. This phrase is often used to help make criticism sound more palatable. However, as it is used so frequently it often has an adverse reaction. Many of us switch off as soon as we hear these two words. “Yes…but” also gives the impression that a person is not truly listening. It sounds like they are dismissing what you are saying before you have even said it. Someone who is truly attentive to what you are saying will listen first and save their opinion for later.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways this phrase is used:

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The break up

When you are in a relationship you may find yourself asking your partner: Are we good together? The last thing that you would like to hear is: “Yes…but.” If you get this reaction you are likely to assume that your partner finds faults in your relationship and is not entirely sure that you should be together.

The backhanded compliment

Many of you will at some point ask people for reassurance. For example, you may ask our friend: Do I look good? If your friend replies: “Yes…but,” you are likely to take this as a no. You may feel that they do not entirely approve of the way you look but are just saying yes to be polite. The “but” implies that they see something they do not like in the way you look.

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The invitation refusal

When you host a party or simply have a few friends around for drinks you will ask them: Would you like to come? If you get the response “Yes…but” you are likely to take this as an excuse. It may seem to you like your friend is trying to get out of coming to your event.

Ask for assistance

Often you reach out and ask someone for help. If you ask: “Can you please help me?” and are met by the response: “Yes…but” you are likely to be offended. You are likely to take this as a no and feel like the person who you have asked for assistance does not really want to help. Stating yes at the beginning does not make the refusal to help sound any better.

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Lack of support

You may find that sometimes you seek out reassurance and support from friends or family. You may ask them: Aren’t I right? The last thing you want to hear is: “Yes…but.” If you hear this phrase you may think that the person who uttered it does not want to back you up and support you.

Lack of approval

You tend to go about your daily chores independently but sometimes you would like to know if you are doing a good job. You ask the question: Am I doing a good job? Someone responds: “Yes…but.” This is obviously not the answer you were looking for. You were in search of approval and instead you got a disguised lecture.

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Rejection

You may go out on a limb and ask someone: Would you like to join me? If you get the answer: “Yes…but” you are likely to feel rejected. You may assume that they are trying to get out of joining you and are simply saying yes to cover it up.

Lack of sympathy

You may not be feeling well and notice that your partner or friend does not seem to be as concerned or sympathetic as you expected them to be. You confront them: Aren’t you worried? They answer: “Yes…but” and immediately you feel like they are not truly concerned.

Lack of enthusiasm about your success

You achieve a momentous goal or do something you are really proud of achieving. You find that your friend does not seem to be very enthusiastic about your success. You ask them: Aren’t you happy for me? You hear the words: “Yes…but” and you immediately feel that your suspicions were correct. You conclude they are not genuinely happy and are just saying the yes bit to be nice; the “but” part is all that really counts.

The disguised put down

Sometimes people use the phrase “Yes…but” to disguise their criticism. For example, you may ask someone if you are doing a good job and they reply: “Yes…but”. In truth what they are saying is no but they are simply saying it in a way that makes their put down less obvious. In short, “Yes…but” is a phrase that should fiercely be avoided. It is often interpreted negatively and leaves the person who hears these words feeling badly.

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Rebecca Beris

Rebecca is a wellness and lifestyle writer at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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