When you were a kid, words really didn’t mean as much. You could just spout off about anything—whether a naughty word learned from an adult or an indecent phrase picked up from TV—and nobody really cared. If you happened to receive any chiding, chances are it came with a laugh and an, “It’s a teaching moment” label.
As you age, though, the tolerance for such unexamined utterances declines. Sharply. And while most of us figure out what’s appropriate and what’s not by, say, high school or early adulthood, others fail to learn anything at all. As such, they spout nonsense at work and at home, during social gatherings and sporting events, in the middle of workouts and lunch lines, or—and this one’s the gravest offense—in the bedroom. Herein, we’ve gathered their 40 most common transgressions. Read on and learn what to never, ever say, to anyone. Ever. (If you haven’t by now, that is.) And once you’ve tidied up your vernacular, move on to banishing the 40 Things No One Over 40 Should Ever Do.
“I don’t have time.”
This is one of the most bogus responses you can give to someone at work and is one that everyone knows isn’t true. There’s always time to work on something—it’s just a matter of making time. Try saying something like: “I won’t be able to make that a priority right now.” And for more office-verboten phrases, bone up on the 40 Things No One Should Ever Say at Work.
“It’s not fair!”
Squawking this gem out should only be allowed for kids under the age of 10. Once you hit puberty and start becoming mature and wise to the ways of the world, please retire this whiny retort. And if you are in middle age and blurt this out, you should be shamed. And for more things to banish from your vernacular, learn the 50 Things You Should Never Say to Someone Over 50.
“You look tired.”
Never, ever say this to anyone, especially strangers, unless you plan on following it up with something like, “you deserve a break” and then begin to comfort and cater to their every earthly desire. No one wants to hear they look miserable. And if they do indeed look miserable, they probably also feel miserable—and your comment just made things worse. Pro tip: never say this to a significant other. And for more forbidden phrases, learn the 50 Things Single People Wish You’d Stop Saying.
“Out of my way!”
Being a self-important jerk often takes years of selfishness to cultivate, and if you ever find yourself uttering this exclamation—and you’re not on fire—then congratulations, you’ve become a class A boor, all before the age of 50.
You can say this if you are working behind a lunch counter and need to call on the following customer, but if you ever say this as a dismissal of something that isn’t satisfactory to you, please take a long look in the mirror at the monster you’ve become. Nothing is more infuriating than someone who thinks their time is more valuable than yours, and audibly makes it clear to everyone around them.
“I’m on a diet.”
If you’re at a dinner party and the host serves you something objectionable or you’re out eating with friends and someone offers you a bite you aren’t into, just politely refuse with a quick, “No, thank you.” There’s no need to go into excuses, and no one cares really and it just makes you come off as a little insufferable. To make the most of your nascent healthy eating habits, keep things to yourself and learn The 30 Best Ways to Stick to Any Diet.
“So, when are you going to have a baby?”
Uttering this statement is only okay if you’re an aging mother and even then it’s usually not going to get you a great response. If you have the gumption to say this to a couple you just met, or even some old friends you recently linked up with again at a party, our guess is your brain is probably clouded by caring for the kids you already have.
“Watch out, jerk!”
Yes, commuting can be a trying time of the day where mental fortitude is at the fringe and tempers are simmering under the surface, but unless you want to start a fight, 40-year-old, just say a simple “excuse me,” if someone gets in your space. Coming home with a bloody nose and ripped shirt is never okay. If you find yourself with this simmering daily anger, you may want to learn how to make your commute the most fun part of your day.
“Who are you voting for?’
These days in particular, it’s probably better to keep your politics to yourself and not probe too deeply into other’s ideas of who should be in charge of the government. Leave this one between you and your close family and friend, but note that, even then, it can get a little dicey. Use extreme caution with this query. And for more sayings regarding the Beltway, read up on The 25 All-Time Greatest One-Liners From Politicians.
“Are you finished?”
Wanting to find out if your partner is done eating so you can pick up the check from the waiter? Then this is A-okay. Saying it with a sigh as you and your partner hash out some perceived strife? Prepare for more problems.
Starting off a conversation with a “For a…” is one of the lowest and slimiest ways to attempt to give a compliment. It’s regularly used by guys who are just itching to feel superior and pop into a talk with a woman the classic: “For a woman, you are [insert back-handed compliment]…” Don’t use this when trying to flatter anyone, because it’s an insult.
“Let’s get brunch!”
Boozy brunches were good fun when you were staying up all night on the weekends and partying till the clubs shut down, but hopefully you’re not club-hopping anymore. As an adult now, it’s time to eat like one, which means breakfast, lunch, and dinner—and save the alcohol for your last meal, not the first!
“Like I said before…”
Often used to make the recipient feel like they are back in kindergarten or of lower intelligence than the speaker—incapable of recalling something said merely five minutes ago—it’s mean and belittling. And for more phrases to never, ever utter, learn the 40 Things You Should Never Say to Someone Over 40.
“As I’ve said before…”
Slightly different than, “Like I said before,” which refers to that particular conversation, this phrase presumes that the listener has a crystal clear memory of everything you’ve ever said—ever. Spoiler alert: they most certainly do not.
“I’m too busy.”
Saying this so you can get out of helping a coworker or a friend is a jerk move. Nobody is so busy that they can’t put aside a few moments to lend a hand to someone in need. Even if you are currently embroiled in some massive project, offer to help them out as soon as you can.
When someone thanks you for your work or how you helped them out with a project or dilemma, don’t say this tired response. It implies that their request was possibly problematic and annoying to you—instead say a succinct and more-heartfelt, “You’re welcome.” Next, check out the 30 Things You Should Never Say to Someone Over 30.
“Am I boring you?”
If you feel the need to bring this passive-aggressive chestnut out during a conversation, realize that you are being a bore by saying it. Disinterest on the other parties’ part could be a signal to change up your story or change the subject. Take the high road—there’s no need to act defensive and abrasive.
“I don’t care.”
A verbal form of giving up, saying this one is an obvious clarion call to how much you really do care. You care so much about getting your feelings hurt that you are willing to shut them all down and pretend like nothing matters. You aren’t fooling anyone, it does matter and you do care. Confront your feelings and verbalize what you care about.
Don’t get it twisted, if you are saying this you are not sorry. Apologies don’t come with qualifiers, and that’s what adding in the “but” is telling the other person—you’ll gladly give them some lip service to make them feel better but, deep down, you don’t really care about their feelings.
“I give up.”
Oh man, if you let this baby fly during an argument to shut it down, whether at the office or with a partner, be prepared to be seen as a weak, passive-aggressive loser. Your colleagues will surely lose faith in you if this is how you deal with a complex problem, and your spouse will probably lose a lot respect for you—and the relationship.
“I told you so.”
Being a smug, self-satisfied person may seem to be a great way to live, you know, always being right and on top, but don’t delude yourself, it just makes you small. If you do happen to be right about something that was contentious, be gracious and keep your smugness to yourself.
“Can I ask you a stupid question?”
Woe to you if this question every comes shooting out of your mouth because, for one, you just asked a stupid question. And no, it’s not cute to say this with a grin as you set up some dumb pick-up line or prepare a “witty” quip to bowl someone over with your staggering intellect.
With all due respect.”
Another one that is totally the opposite of what is trying to be conveyed and if you find yourself saying a lot, basically means you are a jerk. We all know this colloquialism translates directly to, “With all due disrespect.”
“You never…” or “You always…”
One thing you should’ve definitely learned by this point in your life is that there are no absolutes. These two statements are just not-so-deft dodges for trying to articulate your feelings in an argument or defensive knee-jerk reactions to criticism. After blurting one these out, pause and take the time to reconsider, then offer up a more articulate response.
Oh, what a lame and wishy-washy thing to say. Never let this one fly at work, unless you don’t want to have a job anymore or wish to be marginalized and not given any more responsibilities or promotions. Recall the words of wizened Jedi master Yoda: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
“You’re so skinny!”
Recognize that, if you are saying, whether to your girlfriends or to strangers working out, you should, stop saying it; the phrase can come off as a condescending remark, at best, and one oozing with envy, at worst.
“That’s not my job.”
Unless you’re woefully unqualified and someone comes up and asks you to perform their open heart surgery next week, never say this. And certainly don’t let it slip at your workplace. It’s another career killer and uttering it at work to a superior or even a co-worker is a surefire way to get slowly pushed out—or fired. Then you won’t even have a job to refuse to do.
“How much do you weigh?”
Often blurted out at gyms by bros trying to be chummy, it’s really nobody’s business and can, in fact, be highly offensive to some people, no matter how superhumanly jacked they appear. Unless you are close buds and training partners, leave this one out of conversation.
“It’s not my fault.”
Hopefully you learned not to use this one to get out of responsibility way back when you were young, because if you use it much at this advanced age, you’re probably not in a good place, financially or relationship-wise. This phrase is the last refuge of cowards and should not be uttered, ever.
“You shouldn’t be eating that.”
If there’s one sure argument starter, this is it, and your fellow diners will be treated to an epic throw-down. (Pro tip: Don’t say this one in private either.)
Nothing is more pathetic than whimpering out these two weak words in response to a work assignment or really any request that comes at you in life. Remember, “Success comes in cans, not cannots,” as countless posters have cheered from high school guidance counselor offices across the country.
“You look great for your age.”
Another back-handed compliment, this is just telling the person that they are old and look just good enough to be minimally acceptable by society’s standards. Don’t say this to a stranger, a friend, a parent, or anyone.
“This will only take a minute.”
Don’t waste everyone’s time and insult them with false promises at work unless the task will literally only take you 60 seconds or less to complete. Be realistic about your time and your talents and give the person an accurate estimate of the requirements to finish a job.
“Are you pregnant?”
If you want a good smack across the face, blurt this one out. It’s not only inappropriate to say even to your best friend, you run the risk of the world’s most awkward moment at the drop of a, “No.” (Good luck salvaging that friendship.)
“Who passed gas?”
Be an adult and simply leave the room.
Telling someone to “relax” in the middle of a heated discussion at work or while out at a bar is guaranteed to be the one surefire way to escalate the situation. If you’ve ever been hankering to see just how far someone’s eyeballs can bulge from their sockets or how red their face can get, let this one fly next time you’re in an argument.
“It was only a joke!”
This is the last refuge of the person who can’t own up to some mistake—a prank gone wrong, a movie spoiler let loose, a horribly timed utterance. Believe us, everyone knows it wasn’t a joke and you will make yourself look even worse, no matter the occurrence, by resorting to this feeble statement. For some actually, “It was only a joke!” stunts, check out The 25 Hilarious Pranks That Are Totally Harmless.
“You’re so woke.”
Sorry, but you’re not a Millennial, friend. And for more slang and taboo terms you should do away with at all costs, check out 40 Slang Terms No One Over 40 Should Ever Use.
Want to look like a major jerk? Shout this out to anyone in public, whether at the bar, in the gym, or at work. It’s a low-class, bush-league remark that just makes you look small, mean, and trifling. Deal with whatever situation that could warrant this exclamation with something more tactful like, “Can you lower your volume?”
“Have you gained weight?”
Really this one should only ever be said if you’re talking to a power lifter trying to move up a weight class or a cancer patient who went into remission a month ago. In fact, a good rule of thumb is just to never comment on anyone’s weight. And for more ways to optimize your life, be sure to banish the 40 Worst Habits for People Over 40.
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