Being judgmental can strain relationships.
When you talk down to others, you’re slowly pushing them away.
Sometimes, people aren’t even aware that their words are hurtful, especially if they’re never called out.
Do you think that’s your case?
If you say these 16 phrases often, you might be more judgmental than you think.
Biting your tongue now and again is a good idea.
1) I’m not one to judge, but…
Whenever someone starts a sentence like this, they follow it with some of the most judgmental words you’ve ever heard.
Just because you use the initial disclaimer to distance yourself from passing judgment doesn’t excuse what comes next – especially if you continue by expressing a judgmental viewpoint.
Not only are your words judgmental, but they can also be perceived as insincere or passive-aggressive. Boo!
2) No offense, but…
Like with the previous example, this disclaimer precedes a critical statement.
Implying that you don’t want your words to harm doesn’t soften the blow.
I once had a frenemy who used this phrase so much it lost all meaning:
- No offense, but your wardrobe could use a refresh.
- No offense, but you should go to the gym more.
- No offense, but that guy is not checking you out.
- No offense, but your career is going nowhere.
The most ironic part was that she wasn’t in a position to judge. She was just as much of a mess back then as I was.
Yet, by constantly putting me down, she made herself feel better about her own circumstances.
I regret never confronting her about her behavior. On the bright side, our paths diverged, and I didn’t have to deal with her putdowns for too long.
3) It’s not my place to say, but…
People use this phrase to convey a sense of restraint or neutrality.
They admit they’re not an authority on the matter or don’t have the right to make a judgment.
Then, they proceed to deliver a judgmental statement anyway.
If it’s not your place to say, perhaps don’t say it?
4) Are you really going to eat/wear/do that?
Granted, a statement like this can convey curiosity and nothing else.
More often than not, though, it’s delivered in a tone that suggests surprise, disbelief, or disapproval.
Add a raised eyebrow into the mix, and you have the complete judgmental package.
I can still remember when, as a teen, I put together an outfit that was a little out there but made me feel confident. Like I could take over the world.
As I was getting ready to leave the house, my mom looked me up and down and asked if I was really planning to head out dressed like that.
I could feel the confidence leaving my body. I still wore the outfit, but the damage was done.
5) I would never eat/wear/do that.
When someone says, “I would never eat/wear/do that,” they’re expressing their disapproval or criticism of the action.
It suggests that they consider their own choices superior.
Additionally, the phrase can come across as an attempt to impose your values or standards on someone else.
It implies that the speaker’s way of doing things is the only correct way.
Sorry to break it to you. If you always weigh in on someone else’s choice or behavior, you’re more judgmental than you think.
6) You need to take better care of yourself.
While this statement can seem like it’s coming from a place of concern, look deeper, and you’ll notice the judgmental undertones:
- It implies that the recipient is not taking care of themselves
- Using “You need to” suggests that the speaker knows what’s best for the recipient
- The statement may not take into account the complexity of the person’s life
- It can be perceived as unsolicited advice
Instead of judging the person struggling, try empathy: “I’m concerned about your well-being, and I’m here to support you if you ever want to talk about self-care strategies.”
Doesn’t that sound like something a supportive person might say?
7) You’re just doing that for attention.
Saying that someone only does something for attention implies that the person’s actions aren’t genuine.
Are you in a position to jump to that conclusion? We can’t know for sure what goes on in someone else’s mind.
By uttering this phrase, you suggest that you lack empathy for the person’s emotional state or experiences.
Even if they are doing something for the attention, your remark will discourage them from opening up to you or reaching out for help.
In other words, nothing good will come from it.
8) What were you thinking?
When you ask this, you’re essentially questioning the person’s judgment or implying that they made a mistake.
Coupled with an obnoxious tone, it will be seen as judgmental and condescending.
9) I told you so.
By saying, “I told you so,” you’re pointing out that you were right and the other person was wrong.
You’re gloating while making the other person feel foolish for not following your advice or trusting your opinion.
It’s not a constructive way to communicate.
10) They’re so [insert negative adjective here].
I don’t think this one requires much of an explanation.
Don’t you agree?
11) That’s so typical of you.
This phrase makes a wild generalization about the person’s behavior, which may not be fair or accurate.
It suggests that they have a consistent pattern of behavior or personality traits seen as undesirable.
From experience, people aren’t black or white.
There are a lot of shades of grey you’re probably not taking into account when you call something they do “typical.”
Besides being judgmental, the statement is dismissive and condescending, suggesting that you expected nothing else.
12) I expected better from you.
By stating that someone hasn’t met your standards, you’re passing judgment on their actions.
As with most phrases on this list, your tone makes a world of difference.
Saying it in an understanding and calm manner, for instance, makes it less harsh.
Screaming it in the middle of a fight before storming off, not so much.
13) I can’t believe you don’t know that.
I’m sometimes guilty of uttering this one myself, but I’m working on it.
Last time, it was when a friend didn’t know who Meryl Streep was.
I was so taken aback that I couldn’t hide my judgment. Luckily, he didn’t care.
Expressing disbelief at someone’s lack of knowledge makes you look condescending – an attitude other people don’t find appealing.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that not everyone has the same level of education, interests, or opportunities as you.
Judging people because they don’t know how to do something or because they haven’t heard of a popular book/movie/celebrity/whatever will make them feel embarrassed and inadequate.
Even when that wasn’t your intention in the first place.
14) It’s common sense.
Similarly, telling someone that something is common sense will only cause frustration.
This phrase implies that the person should already understand something, and their lack of doing so is a failure to possess basic knowledge.
At the end of the day, what may seem like common sense to one person may not be so for another.
15) It’s not that hard.
For some people, it very much is.
Just because something comes naturally to you or you find it easy, it doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone else.
We’re all different.
If you say this on a regular basis while looking down on people, you’re judgmental for sure.
16) Why can’t you be more like that person?
Implying that the person being addressed falls short compared to someone else isn’t only judgmental, it’s mean.
This practice used to be common among the parents in my immediate circle when I was in school.
Whenever I got a lousy grade while a friend did better, one of the grow-ups in the family would ask why I didn’t do as well as my friend.
If I did better and the friend worse, they would admit to getting the same dreaded inquiry.
It drove us crazy and affected our self-esteem. Turns out, pitting people against each other causes feelings of jealousy and resentment.
The phrase also implies that you think the other person is better and judge the recipient for being unable to keep up.
It’s neither inspiring nor motivational.
If you’re guilty of saying the phrases above frequently, you might want to tone down your judgmental ways.
Otherwise, even your closest friends will get fed up with your superiority.
Start by practicing empathy.
Put yourself in other people’s shoes and consider the factors that may influence their actions or decisions.
The more you work on it, the more understanding you’ll become.