If someone uses these 8 phrases in a conversation, they lack self-awareness and empathy

Have you ever been mid-conversation with someone, and they said something that got your back up?

Yet you also got the feeling that they were not being intentionally spiteful?

If so, it’s likely you’re dealing with someone who lacks self-awareness and empathy rather than a manipulator or narcissist.

It’s important to remember that empathy is not an innate human trait.

The level of empathy we possess is due to a combination of nature and nurture (our genetics and upbringing).

Moreover, self-awareness is something we only develop when we choose to work on ourselves.

This is why people often drop phrases into conversations that we would never dream of saying to someone.

Here are eight of the most common phrases you’ll hear from people who lack self-awareness and empathy…

1) “It’s not that big of a deal”

If you tell someone about something that concerns you and they respond with this phrase, it is a clear sign that they lack empathy.

By saying, “It’s not that big of a deal.”, the person dismisses your concerns and minimizes the importance of your experiences and emotions.

Self-aware people with high levels of empathy know that just because something may seem trivial to them, it doesn’t mean it will to others.

Each individual’s feelings and experiences are valid.

Even if we don’t fully comprehend someone’s perspective, our empathetic nature means we acknowledge the significance of the other person’s emotions. This allows us to offer support and understanding.

So, if someone tells you, “It’s not that big of a deal,” it shows:

  1. They do not recognize the unique nature of human emotions
  2. They do not know how to respond with sensitivity and compassion

People who use this phrase also often use the following one…

2) “Stop being so dramatic/sensitive”

Like the phrase above, calling someone’s emotional response dramatic or sensitive invalidates their feelings.

People who are self-aware and empathetic understand that everyone experiences and expresses feelings differently.

So, instead of dismissing or belittling someone’s emotions, empathetic people demonstrate active listening. They create a safe space for the other person to express themselves without fear of judgment.

On the other hand, someone who claims you are “too much” of something does nothing but shut down any possibility for open and honest communication.

What’s more…

In a survey by Preply, which interviewed 1,200 people about their experience with passive-aggressive communication, “You’re too sensitive” was voted one of the worst phrases someone could say.

So avoid anyone using this phrase on you, and remember to practice self-awareness to ensure you don’t unknowingly use it on anyone, either!

3) “I’m just telling it how it is”

While honesty is important, we should combine it with empathy and tact. Otherwise, we come across as blunt and rude.

Stating your opinion without considering its impact reflects a lack of empathy and social awareness.

This is because part of showing empathy is recognizing the impact of our words on others.

If someone shares their opinion bluntly and then sees you looking shocked, or you call them out on their bluntness, they will respond with a phrase like “I’m just telling it how it is.”

By using this phrase, they are trying to justify the harsh or hurtful feedback they gave under the guise of honesty.

This is also a type of fake innocence, which participants in the Preply survey voted as the second-worst behavior.

4) “Relax, I’m just kidding”

“I’m just kidding” was ranked the 7th worst passive-aggressive phrase in the Preply survey.

A person lacking self-awareness and empathy will use this phrase to dismiss a hurtful comment or joke they made.

It shows that the person doesn’t understand how their words can impact others’ feelings and is a way to avoid taking responsibility for the harm caused.

While humor can and often is a good thing in relationships, it should never come at the expense of someone else’s feelings.

Building empathy in communication involves recognizing the boundaries of humor.

By brushing off offensive or insensitive remarks as mere jokes, people lacking empathy contribute to creating an environment where hurtful behavior is normalized.

5) “That’s YOUR problem”

According to Lesley University, there is a solid correlation between empathy and a willingness to help others.

So, people who lack empathy often demonstrate no desire to help or support others.

This makes sense when you consider the definition of empathy…

“The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

If you cannot understand why someone is feeling the way they are, you will feel no desire to support them.

Instead, you might believe they are overreacting or creating a problem out of nothing.

Considering this, if you ask for someone’s help and they say something like “It’s nothing to do with me” or “It’s not my problem,” this demonstrates a lack of empathy and accountability.

They are trying to shut down communication so that they can be “let off the hook.”

However, people who refuse to engage in problem-solving or offer support leave the other person feeling invalidated and unsupported.

As you can imagine, this has detrimental effects on their relationships.

For example, in this 2016 study, researchers got couples to rate their partners’ empathy level.

Couples who rated their partners as empathetic were more satisfied with the support they received compared to those who believed their partners lacked empathy.

6) “It’s not my fault”

Not my fault If someone uses these 8 phrases in a conversation, they lack self-awareness and empathy

Accepting personal responsibility is an essential aspect of self-awareness and empathy, as it acknowledges the impact of our behavior on others.

When someone says a phrase like “it’s not my fault,” it shows they fail to recognize:

  1. Their role in the situation
  2. The consequences of their actions

Moreover, it suggests they are reluctant to admit mistakes or wrongdoings, perhaps due to their ego or fear of losing power/control.

This phrase undermines trust and damages relationships, often by exacerbating conflicts and hindering resolutions

Here’s another phrase people who lack self-awareness will use to avoid accountability…

7) “That’s just the way I am”

People who lack self-awareness use this phrase to avoid taking accountability for their actions and behaviors.

But saying, “That’s just the way I am,” not only excuses your wrongdoings but justifies mistreating others.

Self-awareness involves recognizing how our words and actions affect those around us. The more conscious we are of our own behaviors, the better we treat others.

So when someone blames their harmful behavior as being an inherent aspect of their personality, they don’t just avoid accountability; they also fail to acknowledge their potential for growth and change.

Thus, these people have what is known in psychology as a “fixed mindset.”

Some research studies have examined the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed one. They found that people with fixed mindsets are more at risk of:

  • Mental health issues
  • Chronic stress
  • Low self-esteem

People with fixed mindsets are also more likely to be negative. They often do not support others’ ideas or shut them down because of their own insecurities and fears.

In this case, you might hear them saying the following phrase…

8) “That’s a stupid idea”

Dismissing someone’s ideas or suggestions as stupid is a form of belittling.

It’s important to remember that if someone says this to you, it does not reflect your skills, creativity, or abilities.

Instead, it is a reflection of the other person’s:

  • Insecurities and limiting beliefs
  • Lack of self-awareness

We should only offer constructive feedback with empathy and consideration for the other person’s perspective.

So if someone labels your idea as stupid, they are showing how close-minded they are.

This is because self-aware people value diverse perspectives and are willing to explore alternative solutions.

But people who lack empathy and self-awareness believe what they think and believe to be the absolute and only truth.

Final thoughts

When someone uses these phrases on you, it’s natural to feel like they are intentionally trying to hurt you.

But as speech and communications expert, John Bowe explains, people who use passive aggressive phrases do so because they struggle with recognising and accepting their emotions.

In most cases, it’s not because the person has a problem with you, but rather themselves.

They cannot identify their own or others’ emotions and thus misread situations, saying things that come across badly.

Gemma Clarke

Gemma Clarke

I am a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher and an experienced content writer in the spirituality and personal growth space. I’m passionate about sharing my expertise through the power of words to inspire and guide others along the path of personal and spiritual development.

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