Friday, September 7, 2012

What Not To Say.

Welcome to the very first edition of "what not to say."  (Ok, honestly, it's probably the only edition... just something I wanted off my chest that I thought you all could appreciate.)  It's like "What Not To Wear" but with words.  And interpersonal communication.  So it's a lot less shallow, right?

So, in this episode we explore what not to say... to someone who's having a bad day.

We all have them.  And when we all have them we think we're the only ones having them.  And then other people say stupid things.  You know what?  I'm guilty of spewing forth  stupidity myself.
Just so that we - and by WE I really am including myself here - don't fall victim to saying these stupid things to someone who has had a bad day, I would like to submit for further review this collection of observations.
That's just about all the introduction I think this episode needs.  So, without further ado...

1.  "I hate to say this but..."
Why you shouldn't say this to someone who's having a bad day: 
- First off, if you hate to say something, don't say it.  Right?  I can't be alone in the conclusion that pretty much anything that starts with "I hate to say this but" is better off unsaid.
- Secondly, you don't hate to say it.  If you hated to say it, you wouldn't say it (see above).  
A few illustrative examples:
"I hate to say this but... I told you so."
Really?  You hate to say that?  No you don't.  You relish it.  You want to be able to say it all the time.  So when you DO say it, it makes you feel all glowy and awesome inside and the other person terrible.  And the other person in this case is already having a bad day so honestly, who cares if you told them so?  They certainly don't...
"I hate to say this but... you asked for it."
I asked for this?  I asked for THIS??? No.  Really, just... no.  If it is making me have a bad day then I guarantee I did NOT ask for it.  Perhaps you feel that decisions I chose played a role in the outcome, but I did NOT ask for this.
- Thirdly, they might hit you.

2. "Oh, it's not that bad."
Um.  Oh.  Ok.  Now that you've pointed that out to me I suppose you're right - thanks so much for using one tiny sentence designed to belittle what I'm feeling to put everything into perspective.  Have you ever (insert horrible day makers here) before?  No?  Oh.  Then I believe you have no room to talk.

3. "You know, someone's always worse off than you are."
Great!  Hook me up with them so we can be bad day buddies!  We can drink tea and eat crumpets and recount all the ways our days were awful!  Then we can drown our sorrows in way too much chocolate and other destructive self-medicating behaviors because thinking about how bad off EVERYONE IS is so INCREDIBLY DEPRESSING.

4. "You should have seen this coming."
Ah, well.  Forgive me.  My sight into the future is temporarily out of order.

5. "I know EXACTLY how you feel."
I'm sorry, but no, you do not.  You know kind of how I feel.  You may be very close to knowing exactly how I feel.  But you do not have my collective of perceptions, experiences, circumstances, characteristics, personality traits, propensities, quirks, foibles, challenges, bad habits and the like because, quite frankly, YOU are not ME. And thank goodness, too.  Can you imagine a population of people running around with my quirks, foibles and bad habits?  It's the stuff of nightmares I tell you.  

6. "Well that's nothing.  Let me tell you about MY bad day..."
Oh, goody.  Just what I want to hear about!  I am begging you, please make everything about you while simultaneously making ME feel guilty and completely invalidated.  AWESOME.  And by awesome I mean please stop talking.

7. "Bad day, huh?"
Thank you, captain obvious.  Let's rub it in.  Nope, not enough.  More, rub it in more.

(Bad hair day)

So let's review a few things that are totally acceptable - nay ENCOURAGED - to say to someone who is having a bad day.  The next time you encounter a loved one, co-worker or acquaintance having a bad day, feel free to choose one or a combination of the following.

1. "Oh, dear.  How awful.  Here, let me..." 
and then fill in the blank with the following: rub your feet/do all of your dishes/watch your screaming children while you relax in a totally kid-free environment.

2. "That stinks.  Can I offer you..."
and then fill in the blank with the following: a vat of nice fattening chocolate/a good stiff drink - like a Pepsi for instance/free babysitting for your screaming children while you relax in a totally kid-free environment.

3. "Goodness.  Let me sit here silently while you ramble on and on.  
No, no, go ahead.  I promise I will not try any feeble attempts at making you feel better, nor will I assume I can fix all of your problems in the 30 seconds of time I've taken to understand you."

4. No comment, simply hand them...
any (or really ALL) of the following: the keys to the car and a gift card to their favorite establishment/a large plate of oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies/a good stiff drink/a babysitter for their screaming children so the two of you can go get a mani.

5. "I think you should totally feel like crap, cry a little, and then do whatever you want.
I'll help you accomplish this in any way needed - like handing over this twix bar I just bought or watching your screaming children."

6.  "Would you like to borrow my punching bag?"

7.  All joking aside, say nothing.  Just give them a hug.

(This is what happens let bug borrow my phone)

Alright, now that I've gotten it all out of my system, I believe this sounds a bit gripe-y.  I'm not generally such a downer and I swear I don't say nasty things like this in real life... but this is my blog, and where else can I secretly write down the cynical and sarcastic things that pop into my head to then publish publicly for all the world to see???  
Yeah, that's what I thought.

If you're having a bad day, I advise you to skip the drama...  Just send your loved ones on over here.  
And also, I sincerely commiserate - without belittling your feelings, making your day of awfulness in any way invalid, attempting to assure you that I know how you feel or even trying to verbalize my own bad day.

I'm nice like that.  You're welcome.

(Pictures of my kids throwing temper tantrums are so much cuter than pictures of me doing the same thing.  Feel fortunate that no one has documented those moments.)

PS.  speaking of bad days... Do you want to MAKE MY DAY??? (actually, really, it'd make my year... or possibly my life...)

You know I entered Mandi's giveaway...

Would you mind popping over there and voting for me??  Pretty please?
Just follow the link to the contestants.
Scroll down to number 105 - "Plea From the Design Challenged".
Click the star.
That's it!  That's all you have to do!!

You can vote once per day from the same IP address, so you can go vote for me more than once if you want!

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Thanks, you're the best!

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