Is there anything worse than a passive-aggressive response? What about a response that is designed to make you feel small or to belittle your problems? Or a response that is intended to make you seem uptight or ridiculous?

There are loads of phrases and expressions out there that are in common usage that do all of these things. I would lay money on the fact that many people use them without giving it a second thought. Perhaps they don’t even notice that they have been dismissive to a friend or maybe they’ve said something cruel yet phrased it in a way they think absolves them of any negative intent.

With that in mind, I started a list of crappy things we say to each other, then I narrowed it down to 4.  I’ve had them said to me enough times to know that being on the receiving end of them is not helpful at all, unless it’s been a day where I particularly needed inspiration to roll my eyes.

roll eye top 4 things we should stop saying

Just saw my own brain, thanks for that!


 4 Things We Should Stop Saying:

Just Sayin’.

This is tacked on to the end of potentially offensive or inflammatory comments. I’m not entirely sure how we came to a point where we could say horrible things and then think we could justify them by pointing out that we were “just sayin'” them. Of course you just said that bloody awful thing. I heard you or I read your comment- putting just sayin’ on the end doesn’t make it less rude, less offensive or less judgy. It means nothing at all. It’s pointing out the obvious. For example, “Sally should not wear tights with her thighs, I’m just sayin’!” You might be just sayin’, but you’re also still being rude, judgy and mean. Just sayin’.

just sayin 4 things we should stop saying

Therefore, you can’t feel offended or call me out on what I just said, right?

Suggested replacement: nothing. If you want to say something potentially inflammatory or offensive, go right ahead. But be prepared to own it. Meaningless, passive-aggressive words won’t help you.

No offence.

Apparently, adding this to the beginning or the end of a remark you know is offensive will negate that. It gives you the right to say something truly awful to another person while simultaneously removing their right to feel offended by your comments. Fucking magical how those two little words can control the emotional response of another person, isn’t it? If only it worked that way! It’s like people think of it as a get out of gaol free card; they can be as rude as they like or say the cruelest things and somehow, those two words will negate any negative impact. It doesn’t work, guys! If you tell someone they suck at something, that is all they will hear. The “no offence” you added to your remark is meaningless because you don’t get to decide how other people react to your words. If you don’t intend to offend, there’s a better way to go about it.

no offence 4 things we should stop saying

Sorry, not sorry.

Suggested replacement: nothing. Don’t say offensive things to people you don’t want to offend. If you must say something, make sure it is constructive and helpful instead of shitty and cruel.

Too Politically Correct.

Ever been told you are “too PC”? I have. At it’s core, political correctness means using language which is designed to not offend or disadvantage any particular group of people. Isn’t that just the worst thing you’ve ever heard of? In my experience, as a woman on the Internet and as someone who used to have some jerky friends, I used to cop the “too PC” comments if I called someone on their racism, supported the idea that Australia should help refugees, made comments about sexism, shared articles about women’s issues or basically expressed an opinion on anything. Essentially, people use it to try to silence other people. I think people feel uncomfortable if their discriminatory remarks or ignorance is revealed, so “too PC” is now just a catch-phrase used to try to shut down the person making them uncomfortable, however inadvertently. More often than not, it seems to be flung out as a defence mechanism by someone who doesn’t actually know what it means.

4 things we should stop saying

“You’re too PC” actually doesn’t mean “Stop making me feel bad while I exercise my right to be racist!”

Suggested replacement: Think first. If you are about to call someone too PC, remember for a minute what PC actually means- that they don’t want to offend or disadvantage anyone. If something they said, shared or pointed out makes you uncomfortable, maybe reflect on why that is. It might help you become a better person, who knows?

First World Problems.

This one probably came from a good place at some point. It offered us perspective when it came to minor life problems, it was a gentle reminder that people in the world have it a lot tougher than we do. It mean that, say,  missing out on concert tickets should be seen for what it is: a disappointment but not the end of the world . However, like everything, people over-used it. Now it’s thrown at every problem, big and small, so lacks the impact it once may have had. Instead, it’s a way to minimise someone’s distress, to belittle their concerns. For example, if I receive a large bill that I will struggle to pay, telling me that it is a first world problem does exactly fuck all to help me. I know it’s a first world problem. I live in the first world. All of my problems could be termed first world problems. Labeling them doesn’t solve any of them. It also has the flow-on effect of diminishing my problem. Like struggling with a huge bill, feeling worried and stressed, is not worthy of the care and attention of others. It tells me that I have no right to voice my problems.

Talking about our problems, seeking advice or help or even just the empathy of others is quite normal. It doesn’t mean that you don’t care about people who are suffering elsewhere. It doesn’t mean that you think your ridiculously huge power bill is more important than children working in sweat shops or women sold into slavery. Perspective is always valuable but this expression just doesn’t offer it any more.

4 things we should stop saying

The Struggle Is Real

Suggested replacement: Help. Empathise. Be kind. If your friend is having a problem, that is your role. Sometimes we all just need a vent. You can offer perspective if it’s needed (and sometimes it definitely is) while also acknowledging someone’s frustrations or personal struggles without diminishing them. It’s part of being a friend who isn’t a jerk.


Have you got any phrases that belong on this list? 


#IBOT @ Essentially Jess.

4 Things We Should Stop Saying

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  • Another great (and relevant) post To be honest I wouldn’t use any of those phrases. They’d be a little “slap in the faceish”. I’m not really a slap in the face kinda girl. I say First World Problems about myself … but never to someone else. There are plenty of people that do though.

  • I dislike those phrases too. I haven’t had any issues ever with ‘first world problems’ though. It’s mean’t to be a silly, light-hearted thing and I can’t imagine people applying that to heavy situations.
    I personally dislike ‘everything happens for a reason.’ It’s an entirely useless, thoughtless and unhelpful phrase that brushes off another’s pain.

  • LydiaCLee

    I’d also add “With all due respect….” – if you ever preface a sentence with that, you probably shouldn’t say what comes next.

    • Phil James McNulty

      I was waiting for it! With all due respect, I am about to disrespect you.

    • Vince Berryman

      This can be used sneakily, though, as it doesn’t imply that the person you’re talking to is actually due *any* respect. 😉

  • Not a fan of any of these. And although not a phrase technically, I cantbstandbwhen people say ‘anyways’ instead of anyway.

  • Like any words and phrases, if you can’t think of anything respectful to say, say nothing at all! I’m going to have to come clean here and say “Just sayin'” is one of my favourite phrases although I tag it onto lighthearted sentences with wild abandon. Judgy and mean? Ain’t nobody got time for that… Well, I haven’t, anyway!

  • There’s always the classic “I’m not a racist, but…”, a line which only racists use to preface a racist statement…

    • Oh god, YES! Nothing good comes after that- nothing!

  • I particularly hate “first world problems,” as well. I think it’s fine to say about yourself as a reminder of perspective, but I do see it often used to belittle other people. It’s a conversation ender. FB mums groups are full of “first world problem” police!

  • I’m not a fan of any of these statements, all unnecessary, ‘”Just sayin”

  • “No offence” cracks me up because people wave it like a magic wand to take the harsh and critical comment they want to say and make it suddenly light-hearted and fluffy. No! You have still said what you said perhaps they would have been kept as inside thoughts!

    I say “first-world problems” in exactly the manner you write about. I makes me feel better for complaining about something that a lot of people in the world don’t even have to complain about it. Scraps a little bit of guilt (not all) when I need to vent.

  • Being ‘Too PC’ infuriates me. Because it’s just like being ‘too thoughtful’?? And I use ‘just sayin” to point out the obvious to my husband- I might stop after reading this!

  • jess

    This is great. All of these saying are just so invalidating to the other person. Love the suggested alternatives: nothing.

  • My Nan (rest her soul) was the absolute queen of “I don’t mean to be rude, but…” As for #firstworldproblems I think it’s fine when you’re having a shot at yourself (I use it that way) but not when you’re having a shot at someone else.

  • My 9 year old has just started saying “no offence’ which she must have picked up from school and it drives me nuts – I have that exact conversation with her if you have to say that either don’t say it or own what you are saying! I hear you on the first world problems too – it’s all relative and yes we are lucky to live in the first world but it means that they are the only type of problems we can have!!

    • It really doesn’t stop anyone feeling offended does it!

  • TeganMC

    Like others I’ve only used first world problems for myself. I hate people who force gratitude onto others.

    Another one I would add is ‘I’m just being honest, if you can’t handle that’, usually said to a stranger on the internet. It’s so dismissive.

    • Yeah, like honesty means you can be cruel unnecessarily. Um, nope, it does not.

  • Most of these are used so often now, which is sad. They’re said not to offend, but they are tacked on the end of an offending comment.

  • you’re so right, I fricken hate all of these. “just sayin” can GTFO

  • I agree. None of those are helpful things to say and they are never said with the intention of kindness — just half-arsed arse covering. If you are self-aware enough to realise that you need to cushion what you are about to say, maybe just don’t say it.

    • I know! I mean, sometimes we have to have difficult conversations and we don’t want to hurt people- but when it’s just to mock their problem or have a go at them- just don’t. easy.

  • Miss 19 says the “just sayin'” and “first world problems” but it is usually herself that she is applying them to, or in a way that is not offensive. But you’re right, nine times out of ten JUST DON’T USE THEM!!! Or how about this old chestnut… “if you want my advice …” umm actually I don’t …

    Visiting from #teamIBOT x

    • Bahahhaa, I know, right? “If you want my advice….” “Actually, did I ask you for it? No? What does that tell you?”

  • I think it’s ok if you say ‘first world problems’ referring to your own issue, as a way of acknowledging that you know what it is. Sure we shouldn’t have to, but I don’t think that’s all bad.
    You make good points with the others, although you’ve got me thinking about being ‘too pc.’ I don’t believe I’ve ever said it, but I know I’ve rolled my eyes at things I’ve seen that seem so over the top. Thinking about it though, my issue is not that people don’t want to offend (that’s great), but just wondering why it is that some people can be offended over everything.

    • Yes, referring to yourself I can cop- just not when it’s slung at others with actual struggles- so rude.
      I guess some are more sensitive. I kind of feel wrong deciding what can and can’t offend others so if they say they’re offended, I take their word for it, even if I don’t understand (if that makes sense?! )

      • Yes it does. And it’s good to be aware of it. But then I struggle with where the line is in being authentic to what I say and believe and hopefully communicate in a respectful manner, and the fact that some people will just be upset with everything. I think we can overthink things to make them more palatable, but then in doing so we perhaps lose some of the meaning? I don’t know. Just thinking aloud.

  • “In my opinion” always seems redundant to me. Why would you say it if it wasn’t your opinion? And “in my HONEST opinion” kind of implies that you usually lie!

  • Nailing it as always 👍🏻
    I often encounter that i’m too pc, it’s bloody frustrating.

    • Isn’t it the ultimate put-down for someone for being just nice?

  • Anyone who starts a sentence with “I think you’ll find . . .” can do one. Auto-patronising!

  • Oh I agree! “Just saying” pisses me off!! My MIL always says – “I’m sorry but……….” – then feel the burn!!

  • Sarah @sarahdipityblog

    Love this, so true!! Another classic- “I don’t like to judge but…”

  • I nodded and rolled my eyes at all of these. I also hate, You must have too much time on your hands. It makes me speechless with fury if people say that to me.