Don’t you find it really annoying when people make comments like ; “I don’t mean to be rude, but…” Of course the ending to that statement is going to something rude; whether mildly offensive or downright kick you in the teeth rude. Or there is “I don’t mean to be rude’s” distant cousin; “no offence but..” Equally annoying, if not more so as it is even shorter. Not forgetting of course; ” if it’s any consolation …” Usually it is no consolation what so ever.
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So why do people think that it’s okay to unleash their worst as long as the say “no offence but …” beforehand. One stinging example of this happened to me last year when I had my hair cut. After many years without a fringe, I have to admit that the sudden decision to have one did take me by surprise but the minute I looked in the mirror,I realised that I had made a huge mistake. Most people were falsely kind about it apart from one person fairly close to me who said “I don’t mean to be rude,but your hair looks awful.” True? Yes. Rude? Very! So actually that person really did mean to be rude. And they were.
So is it better to just tell people the truth without these meaningless phrases? There is an very well-worn phrase in this house and that is ‘ if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’ and I am a big believer in that. Honesty is important of course it is but if you have to be honest about something that will hurt someone’s feelings then surely constructive criticism is better than rudeness? Going back to the subject of the haircut, maybe something a long the lines of “I’m not sure the fringe is really you, your hair suited you better before…’? Maybe still a little rude, but not quite so blunt. The English language is an amazing thing and we can do so many wonderful things with it and if you have to be negative, try adding a positive first, rather than adding banal unoriginal comments such as; “I’m not being funny but …” Yet we seem to cling to these useless overused phrases like our lives depend on it.
I have to say that I have probably been guilty of uttering these phrases in my lifetime, they are the sort of phrases that you just say without thinking. Habitual almost. Although in my defence, I would never be openly rude to someone, so the climax of the ‘I don’t mean to be rude…’ sentence would inevitably be something along the lines of “… your label is sticking out”. But why do we use them? This thought sent me scurrying around the internet and I discovered the word ‘platitude’. It is a word that I already knew but it describes these phrases perfectly and so many more that we use repeatedly and yet they mean nothing. The word itself derives from the French word ‘plat’ meaning dull and flat and platitudes are exactly that; dull, flat phrases that are pretty worthless really.
Here are my least favourite…
It could be worse… could it? Could it really? Yes, probably but when something ‘bad’ is happening and you are feeling stressed, you do not want someone telling you how it could be worse. Contrary to popular belief, thinking the worst does not help in these situations. How about, ‘it will get better…’ or something a whole lot more positive.
Tomorrow is another day. You don’t say?!
Everything happens for a reason. Does it? Really? Whilst the whole cause and effect thing is all very credible and all, my car breaking down forcing me to pay out lots of money and causing me huge amounts of stress and worry happened for what reason exactly? To drain my bank account? To make me endure two hours in a car in the rain with three mutinous children? Whatever the ‘reason’ was I remain unimpressed.
Everything works out in the end. Works out how exactly? Good, bad, indifferently? Do we get any spoilers here? Annoying.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. A good line for a song I agree but to actually say that out loud to someone is just wrong on every level.
Such is life. Now I know that I have been guilty of using this phrase in the past but what exactly does it mean? Such is life? Pointless.
Good things come to those who wait… I’m still waiting *taps fingers on desk repeatedly*.
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There are hundreds of these phrases and I could go on and on but I think that you can see my point; they really are pointless and meaningless and in many cases unhelpful and rather annoying. I am campaigning for more creative use of our wonderful language, being positive and constructive rather than rude and negative and definitely no more platitudes. Because at the end of the day, I don’t mean to be rude but they are annoying and it could be worse but everything happens for a reason and what’s done is done, look on the bright side and remember that tomorrow is another day and you are better off without them and if it’s any consolation, they weren’t right for you anyway and if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.