Don’t Take This the Wrong Way But…

Oh no, you didn’t…inhale really hard and suck the words back in…reverse, reverse…Control Z…something…please. There is no good that will come of this beginning. Ever.

Let’s start with the words themselves. “Don’t” or do not – starting with a negative right out of the gate. Then we have “wrong” – another negative. And then there’s the “But”; a conjunction, a joiner, BUT in a phrase like this, a joiner of two not so good things.

The speaker (allegedly) means no harm but the phrase establishes a position of judgement, of superiority, as in, “I have such amazing (pick the word of your choice) insight/perspective/education/style/beauty/talent/knowledge/fortune/finances, I’m going to tell you how to fix your little old flawed self”. Oh, oh, thank you soooo much.

The recipient (target) hears the wind up. “Don’t take this the wrong way but…” and is immediately on the defensive trying to figure out which of their terribly personal foibles has been the subject of scrutiny. Every adolescent insecurity bubbles to the surface, setting your teeth on edge, bringing back the odd eye twitch you overcame in college, the “here we go” eye roll and that little ache between your eyebrows. You want to hang up the phone, walk out of the room, close your eyes and ears, and start humming.

As the fight or flight response gears up, the pitch is made and it has to compete with the sound of pounding in your ears because of the elevated blood pressure that so kindly wreaks havoc on your heart. Oh, yeah, I’m really open to hearing this and I’m sure I’ll absorb every single word and change myself immediately and irrevocably.

Unless your, “Don’t take this the wrong way but…” is followed by:

  • …you’re the kindest person I’ve ever met;
  • …you have the most amazing insight;
  • …you have a beautiful voice;

…use a different phrase. Or better yet, resist the urge to speak at all.

#dontsayit #saynothing “donttakethisthewrongway #relationships #friendship

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