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Common Words We Use That Hurt Others

Common Words We Use That Hurt Others

Everyday conversation is essential to several aspects of life such as maintaining relationships (business and personal), building trust and credibility and creating a pleasurable experience for yourself and others. It comes as no surprise therefore that conversation skills are one of the most basic skills needed to function well in everyday society. One of the most important conversation skills for you to have is the ability to avoid using offensive or hurtful language. This becomes especially difficult when you are not aware that the words you use are actually considered hurtful. Slang words and colloquialisms commonly used by the younger generation can also be unknowingly offensive. To assist with this confusion, here are a few common words or phrases which you may or may not know are actually hurtful.

1. “Gay”

This word doesn’t mean ‘happy’ anymore. It is more renowned as a word synonymous with homosexuals. In a society where it is already difficult enough for these people to fit in, it doesn’t help when the word ‘gay’ is now used to describe a stupid or unfortunate situation. Everyday we can hear people say: “I hate this museum, it’s so gay.” When used in the wrong circumstance, ‘gay’ can be incredibly offensive especially around homosexuals. They probably don’t appreciate hearing that they are being used to describe something boring or underwhelming.

2. “Retarded”

This word is commonly used to describe a situation that is crazy or doesn’t make sense, e.g.: “That exam was so retarded.” It is easy to forget that there are mentally challenged people out there. Mentally retarded people and their loved ones would certainly not appreciate hearing themselves compared to something that is considered crazy or unintelligible. These people struggle through life and out of respect, the ‘R’ word is best kept out of your everyday vocabulary.

3. “It was just a joke”

If a person has trouble tolerating whatever you just said, chances are they won’t believe you say you weren’t serious. No matter how close you are as friends or family, if you make an offensive comment and expect them to take it as a joke, it might be a little to much to ask. Although you may have had good intentions, it always pays to be careful about what you say out loud, especially if you know the person is a little bit sensitive.

4. “Never mind, you don’t get it”

Nobody likes being left out of the loop, and used in the wrong context, this can make it sound like you left the person out on purpose. Although you may have only meant for it to be a quick dismissal of a subject, it could come off as rude and flippant, which destroys relationships rather than maintains them. Next time try providing an explanation, no matter how brief.

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5. “This makes me want to kill myself”

You probably only meant it as a figure of speech, however in certain situations, for example, around a person who has experienced the loss of a loved one through suicide, it can create a very awkward situation. Since you never really know these details about every person you happen to talk to, it might be best to avoid using this phrase altogether.

6. “I feel so bipolar today”

Being bipolar isn’t as simple as having a tiny mood swing throughout a day. Mental disorders are stressful and complicated, way beyond the understanding of a person without a mental disability. Certain people, perhaps with bipolar loved ones can be easily offended by your choice of using the word. Without a thorough understanding of the term, it might be worth considering another term to describe your moods on a crazy day.

7. “You’re adopted”

There should be no good reason to use this phrase in conversation with someone obviously not adopted. It becomes an issue when you use the phrase in inappropriate situations. For example: “You are nothing like your siblings. It’s like you’re adopted or something.” A person with a good sense of humor probably wouldn’t mind too much, however some people are less humorous and would potentially be offended at this statement. These kinds of assumptions, regardless of intention, can be dangerous in conversation.

8. “You_____like a girl”

Girls around the word, especially feminists, find this statement incredibly  insulting. Statements such as: “You walk like a girl” are usually said with intentions to insult. While it can be argued that it was meant as a joke, especially towards a very good friend or family member, it can also be rude if used in the wrong situation with the wrong crowd.

9. “Black”

It is controversial, however while you may have only intended to point out the color of their skin, some people are sensitive about the use of the word. They may feel as though it marginalizes them into a minority and it either offend them or makes the, uncomfortable.

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Rather than using the word ‘black’, it might be more practical to label them by ethnicity instead, for example, African American.

10. “Nigga”

This word becomes problematic in modern times where the term ‘nigga’ is now used almost an endearment to a person you are close to. The word is renowned in popular music for example in the song My Nigga by YG. However looking at the racist origins or the word ‘Nigger’, from which it was developed, it comes as no surprise that it remains offensive to a lot of people. It would be wise to remain cautious about using the word around people you aren’t extremely familiar with, regardless of the context.

11. “Spastic”

This word is often used in the context of something weird or dysfunctional, for example: “The electricity has been going really spastic today.” While it seems to be an appropriate way to describe the unusual behavior of electricity that day, it may not be amusing to those who find spasms to be a sensitive topic. Similarly to a few of the other words on this list, it may be best not to use words which you don’t have a thorough understanding with.

12. “Midget”

It is important to note that some people can be sensitive about height, and referring to someone as a ‘midget’ may sound like you are marginalizing them and taking it as a negative thing, Without intent to insult, it is understandable that you may have been using this term to describe short people your whole life. However it might be a good idea to find a word which sounds a bit less offensive towards people lacking in height.

13. “Nazi”

Granted that you well acquainted with the concept of Nazi Germany, you should know that the usage of this word has changed slightly over the years. ‘Nazi’ is often used to describe a person who is strict, with a very rigid personality. It is easy to understand that using this word to describe someone can be incredibly offensive. Next time, it might be better to call them ‘rigid’ rather than comparing them to a rather controversial race of people.

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14. “Take a chill pill”

When a person is stressed, this is possibly the worst thing to say to them in a difficult situation. To them it could imply that you expect them to easily get over their problems and makes you sound like they don’t matter. This can be intended to be used in a joking manner, however in the wrong situation it can actually be really hurtful toward a person.

15. “I don’t care”

This is a very common phrase for someone to say in a variety of situations, and it is obvious that it can easily offend. It is never nice to say that you don’t care about something or someone, even in a joking manner. To those who are a bit more sensitive. they might take your words more seriously than you think. Altogether, it is best to assume that this phrase is offensive in most situations.

16. “You’re just confused”

Even if you are right, it is deeply offensive if you make them sound stupid. More often than not you might think you know the whole story in a particular situation, but chances are, you don’t. Be polite to a person in a situation of crisis. It might help maintain your relationship if you offer your support rather than dismissing their situation.

17. “What’s the point?”

Although you may have asked this from a viewpoint of curiosity, it is easy for this statement to sound offensive. Depending on the sensitivity or the person and the circumstance, you might sound like you are dismissing their explanation before they even try explaining. It sounds rude and there are many more polite ways to ask about the purpose of an action.

18. “You’re too uptight”

People have certain passions and motives, and to imply they are ‘too uptight’ can be extremely hurtful. If they feel strongly about something and you don’t understand why, it might still be better to ask them why rather than unintentionally suggest that it doesn’t matter.

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19. “Have you been living under a rock?”

This is a very popular expression used with people who are less aware of the world around them than most. Keep in mind that they are probably not aware of this fact and implying that they are ignorant, even in a joking manner can come across are offensive. Some people are more attuned to their surroundings than most, however it is no reason to criticize those who are less worldly than you.

20. “You’re not that stupid”

Although this is usually meant as a compliment, certain situations can turn it into an insult instead. For example, if someone close to you wants to do something you know is harmful, you will be inclined to make a comment along the lines of: “Don’t do it, you’re not that stupid.” At this stage, it can be taken as offensive, since it implies that they aren’t smart enough to make their own decisions. Overall, this phrase might do more harm than good in most situations.

Featured photo credit: Hurtful words via google.com.au

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Elizabeth Andal

Elizabeth is a passionate writer who shares about lifestyle tips and lessons learned in life on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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