9 phrases to avoid if you want people to like you

There’s a fine line between being assertive and being abrasive.

The key to this balance lies in mindful communication, especially in the words and phrases we use.

Choosing the right words can make all the difference in how people perceive us. And let’s face it, we all want to be liked.

But, there are certain phrases that can unintentionally push people away, even if you have the best intentions.

Below are the top 9 phrases to steer clear of if you want to keep your relationships positive and your likability factor high.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into it. 

1) “I told you so”

Nobody likes a know-it-all.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of an “I told you so”. It’s not pleasant, is it?

This phrase can make people feel small, as though their error or misjudgment was a foregone conclusion. It’s a surefire way to make someone feel belittled and it’s not conducive to building positive relationships.

While it may be tempting to say this when you’ve been proven right, consider the impact it has on the other person.

Remember, we all make mistakes. Emphasize empathy over ego and resist the urge to say “I told you so”.

Instead, try offering help or advice for the future. This shows that you care about the person and their growth, rather than just being right.

After all, being liked is often about making others feel good about themselves, not superior self-validation.

2) “It’s not my fault”

Passing the buck isn’t a good look on anyone.

I remember a time when I was working on a project with a team. There was a mistake that resulted in us missing a key deadline. I was tempted to say “It’s not my fault” because, technically, I hadn’t made the error.

But then I realized – we were a team. Pointing fingers and shifting blame would only create a negative environment. So, instead of distancing myself from the problem, I said, “Let’s figure out how we can fix this together.”

This small shift in language turned the situation around. Instead of fostering resentment, we ended up working together and finding a solution.

3) “You always…” or “You never…”

These absolute statements can be detrimental to relationships.

When we use words like “always” or “never”, we’re painting an image that may not be entirely true. These words can make the other person feel unfairly judged or generalized, leading to defensiveness rather than constructive conversation.

In fact, research in the field of psychology suggests that the use of absolute language can actually trigger negative reactions and escalate conflicts.

Instead of using these absolute terms, try expressing your feelings and thoughts in a non-accusatory way. For instance, you could say, “I feel upset when…” or “I’ve noticed that…”. This promotes open dialogue and is more likely to lead to a positive resolution.

4) “Whatever”

“Whatever” is one of those phrases that can easily rub people the wrong way.

It’s often perceived as dismissive and passive-aggressive. When used in response to someone else’s opinion or suggestion, it can give the impression that you don’t value their input or that you’re not interested in having a meaningful conversation.

What’s more, the ambiguity of “whatever” can leave people guessing about your true feelings or intentions, which can lead to misunderstandings and tension.

Instead of responding with “whatever”, try offering a clear and respectful response. If you disagree, express your perspective in a polite and considerate manner. And if you’re indifferent, communicate that in a way that doesn’t devalue the other person’s contribution.

pic1997 9 phrases to avoid if you want people to like you

5) “At least…”

While the phrase “at least…” might seem like a way to offer comfort or find a silver lining, it can often come off as dismissive or insensitive.

Imagine a friend shares that they’re struggling with something, and you respond with “At least it’s not worse.” This phrase can unintentionally minimize their feelings and experiences. It’s like telling them that their problems aren’t significant enough to warrant their emotions.

Instead of jumping in with an “at least…”, try active listening. Show empathy, express understanding, and validate their feelings. Phrases like “I can see why you’re upset” or “That sounds really tough” can make the person feel heard and understood.

Because sometimes, people just need to feel that their feelings are valid and important.

6) “This might sound stupid, but…”

We’ve all had moments of self-doubt. Those times when you’re about to share an idea or an opinion, and you preface it with “This might sound stupid, but…”.

But here’s the thing – when you start your statements this way, you’re setting a negative tone and undervaluing your own voice. It’s like you’re apologizing for having an opinion or an idea.

Remember, your thoughts and ideas are valid and they deserve to be heard. And more importantly, people like those who are confident and believe in themselves.

7) “That’s easy for you to say”

Believe me, I’ve been there. I’ve been on the receiving end of a well-intentioned piece of advice that seemed impossibly out of reach for me. And in those moments, it’s tempting to respond with a dismissive “That’s easy for you to say”.

But this phrase can create unnecessary distance and misunderstanding. It can imply that you’re dismissing the other person’s perspective because their circumstances are different from yours.

What I’ve learned is that it’s more productive to express your feelings honestly and directly. Instead of dismissing someone else’s experience, try saying something like, “I’m finding this really challenging because…”.

This approach fosters empathy and understanding, and it invites the other person into your world instead of pushing them away.

8) “I don’t care”

As simple as it sounds, “I don’t care” can actually be quite damaging to relationships.

This phrase can come across as dismissive, uninterested, or even rude. It gives the impression that you’re not invested in the conversation or topic at hand, which can leave the other person feeling undervalued.

Even if you genuinely don’t have a preference or strong feelings about something, there are more tactful ways to express this. Phrases like “I’m okay with whatever you prefer” or “I trust your judgement on this” communicate your flexibility without implying indifference.

9) “No offense, but…”

“No offense, but…” is a phrase that’s often followed by something offensive.

It’s like a warning sign that you’re about to say something potentially hurtful or critical. And honestly, it doesn’t soften the blow or make the following statement any less offensive.

If you have constructive criticism to share, be direct and kind about it. Frame your feedback in a way that focuses on the behavior or issue at hand, not the person.

Above all, remember that words matter. The phrases we choose to use can either build bridges or barriers in our relationships. Being mindful of our language is a simple yet powerful way to ensure we’re building bridges, not barriers.

The power of words

As we navigate through the complexities of social interactions, it’s important to remember the profound impact of our words.

The phrases and expressions we choose to use can build bridges or erect barriers. They can encourage and uplift, or they can discourage and deflate.

Every conversation we engage in represents an opportunity to positively influence how others perceive us. By avoiding the phrases we’ve explored in this article, we can foster healthier and more positive interactions.

At the end of the day, it’s about respect, understanding, and kindness. It’s about acknowledging that our words carry weight and using them wisely.

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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