People who lack empathy frequently say 9 these phrases without realizing their impact

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is a vital skill in our social toolbox.

Yet, not everyone grasps its significance, which often manifests in the words they use.

In fact, some phrases can unintentionally reveal a lack of empathy and even create emotional distance.

So, sit back, and let’s dive into the 9 phrases frequently used by those who lack empathy.

You might be surprised to find out you’ve been using some of these phrases without even realizing their significance!

1) “I don’t care”

As the first phrase on our list, “I don’t care” is one that I’ve heard many times.

We’ve all been there — in a heated argument or a frustrating situation where uttering “I don’t care” seems like the easiest way out.

But have you ever paused to think what those words actually convey?

While it might seem harmless at first, it’s actually a clear sign of a lack of empathy.

Want to know why?

Well, here’s how it works:

When we say “I don’t care”, we’re essentially telling the other person that their feelings, thoughts, or experiences don’t matter to us.

This can be incredibly hurtful and dismissive, especially if the person is opening up about something important to them.

Of course, there are contexts where this expression is appropriate, such as setting boundaries.

But more often than not, it reveals a lack of empathy

That’s why I believe we should all strive to show more understanding and compassion in our interactions rather than dismissing others in this way.

2) “That’s not my problem”

This phrase is another classic example of unintentional emotional distancing.

Sure, it may not be your problem in a literal sense. But saying it in this manner doesn’t contribute to solving the issue or showing support.

What it does do, though, is establish a barrier between you and the other person.

Look, I’m not denying that it’s essential to have boundaries and not shoulder everyone else’s issues.

But you should realize one thing:

There’s a big difference between maintaining your space and dismissing someone’s concerns outright.

The simple truth is that the phrase “That’s not my problem” can be isolating and damaging, making the other person feel unsupported and unheard.

So, think before you let these words slip out.

Is this really the message you want to convey?

Because this phrase indeed shuts down any possibility of empathy and isolates the person who is already in distress.

3) “You’re too sensitive”

Let’s be honest: telling someone they’re “too sensitive” can be a double-edged sword.

On one hand, it may seem like a straightforward observation.

On the other, it often serves as a way to invalidate the other person’s feelings or experiences.

For example, let’s say a friend tells you they felt hurt by a comment you made.

Responding with “You’re too sensitive” shifts the focus from the impact of your words to their reaction, essentially deflecting responsibility.

In doing so, you’re dismissing their feelings and belittling their experience.

The result?

This can harm the relationship and leave the other person feeling misunderstood and less likely to share their feelings in the future.

Just think about it.

Labeling someone as ‘too sensitive’ means we’re invalidating their feelings and experiences.

Instead of acknowledging their emotions and attempting to understand them, we’re implying that their reactions are overblown or unnecessary.

Quick tip: Remember that everyone has a different emotional threshold and what might seem minor to us could be significant to someone else.

4) “Just get over it”

This phrase, “Just get over it”, is one I’ve come across quite often. 

But now I know that it’s a clear dismissal of someone else’s feelings or struggles.

I remember a time when I was going through a difficult period, and someone close to me used this phrase.

Instead of feeling supported, I felt dismissed and alienated.


Because this simple phrase can create emotional distance because it lacks empathy and undermines the complexity of human emotions.

Here’s the thing:

When you say “Just get over it,” what you’re essentially saying is that the other person’s struggles or concerns are not worth acknowledging or discussing.

It’s like saying their emotions have an expiration date and they’ve overstayed their welcome, which is not only unfair but also quite hurtful.

And I bet this doesn’t sound like something you would want to hear when you’re going through a rough patch, right?

The reality is, none of us would.

While it might be our instinct to encourage someone to move forward, it’s essential to do so in a way that validates their experiences rather than trivializing them.

5) “That’s just how I am”

how to tell the difference between a confident person and a narcissist People who lack empathy frequently say 9 these phrases without realizing their impact

How many times have you heard someone justify insensitive or hurtful behavior with the phrase, “That’s just how I am”?

It’s as if this statement gives them a free pass to avoid self-examination and personal growth.

The truth is, saying “That’s just how I am” is often a cop-out.

It allows the person to shrug off any responsibility for their actions, absolving them of the need to change or improve.

It’s the same as saying, “I can’t help being this way, so you’ll just have to deal with it.”

But personal traits and habits are not set in stone.

We all have the ability to change and grow, to become better versions of ourselves.

Trust me, whenever you encounter someone using this phrase as an excuse, it’s a clear indicator that they’re choosing not to engage in any meaningful self-reflection.

And if you catch yourself using it, take a moment to consider what you’re really trying to avoid.

6) “You always…” or “You never…”

These phrases, “You always…” or “You never…”, are common in our daily conversations, right?

However, they can be damaging as they label and define the other person based on a single action or characteristic.

Interestingly, psychologists call this “labeling and mislabeling” — a cognitive distortion where complex realities are simplified into absolute terms.

In simple terms, by using “always” or “never,” you’re not only incorrect factually but also emotionally alienating the person you’re talking to.

You’re reducing their whole personhood to a single, unchangeable trait or action.

Consider this.

If someone told you, “You always mess things up,” how would you feel?

Probably defensive and hurt, as it minimizes your achievements and maximizes your flaws.

Likewise, when you use these phrases, you’re limiting the room for constructive discussion and problem-solving.

It’s not about what the problem is — instead, it becomes about who the person is, and that’s a much more difficult thing to change.

7) “It could be worse”

I have to admit, I’ve used the phrase “It could be worse” with the intention of offering perspective.

But I’ve come to realize that it can often do more harm than good.

Keep in mind that the statement is generally true—yes, things could always be worse—it can inadvertently minimize someone’s feelings or struggles.

However, saying “it could be worse” is a subtle way of saying that they don’t have the right to feel bad because someone else has it worse.

It’s as if there’s a hierarchy of suffering, and they haven’t earned their spot.

Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it?

What’s even worse, with this phrase you risk making the other person feel like their problems aren’t significant enough to warrant attention or empathy.

And guess what?

This can be especially damaging in a close relationship where emotional support is expected.

8) “Why can’t you be more like…?”

You know what’s the worst feeling in the world?

Being compared to someone else as if you’re not good enough just the way you are.

The phrase “Why can’t you be more like…?” does precisely that.

It’s an utterance that undermines individuality and self-worth, making the other person feel like they’re constantly falling short of an arbitrary standard.

Well, you won’t be surprised if I tell you that this kind of comparison can be emotionally crippling, especially when it comes from someone whose opinion you value highly.

It can plant seeds of insecurity and self-doubt, making the person question their worth and abilities.

Here’s the bottom line:

People are not interchangeable.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and that’s what makes us unique.

Rather than using comparisons to impose your expectations on someone else, appreciate them for who they are, flaws and all.

9) “It’s not a big deal”

Lastly, “It’s not a big deal” is a common phrase that people who lack empathy may use without realizing its impact.

It might sound like a casual, harmless statement, but it’s anything but that when it downplays someone’s feelings or experiences.

Simply put, this phrase trivializes what could be a significant issue for the other person, making them feel their concerns are not worth addressing or even discussing.

In essence, it says, “Your feelings don’t matter enough to be taken seriously.”

Of course, this type of dismissive language can strain relationships and prevent open, empathetic communication. 

A simple shift for better connections

Now you know that saying the right thing isn’t just about avoiding conflict — it’s about building bridges of understanding and empathy between us and the people we encounter.

Believe me, changing the way you speak can truly change your life and the lives of those around you.

Think of your words as tools. Use them to build up, not to tear down.

Let’s aim to be better, for ourselves and for those we care about. Sometimes, it’s as simple as choosing different words to express what we feel.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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