While it’s not hard to spot a patronising comment directed at you, it can be tricky to realise that it could be you who’s shelling out the patronising comments without the correct awareness. Being talked down can leave a negative impact on the minds of many, emotionally and mentally draining them. We’re not saying that your intentions are harsh but the impact may seem so.
To align the two, we’ve rounded up 6 phrases you should absolutely avoid at work.
“You always…” or “You never…”
Associated the words like always or never with negative connotations such as, “you’re always late…” or “you can never figure it out…” can set the wrong impact on the receiver of said statements. Not just at work but also in your other relationships and spectrums of life. Apart from being almost never true, these phrases can generate a feeling of exasperation and make you sound childish.
What to say instead: Use the words “frequently” or “regularly” to highlight a habit that bothers you. This will send the right message without hurting the employee.
“As I said before…”
Nothing sounds more condescending than insinuating that repeating yourself is a hardship for you. And this particular phrase does a fabulous job at conveying just that. This also gives the impression that a person can’t come back to you for clarity or doubts, making you seem standoffish and difficult to approach.
What to say instead: Try to sound more interested and welcoming when approached.
“It’s up to you.” or “Whatever you want.”
If a person asks for your opinion, let them know your thoughts instead of sounding indifferent. Or what is even the point of them asking you in the first place?
What to say instead: “I’m not leaning towards a certain option but I have a few points to consider…” This ensures that you stay neutral to the situation while showing the person that you really care about their situation.
“Relax” or “Take it easy.”
Being told to take it easy is peak patronising. Some equally aggravative phrases include “Chill out!”, “Relax” or worse “Calm Down”. By using these words you’re directing the idea that the person’s excitement, concern or issue towards something is an excessive reaction. People are entitled to their feelings.
What to say instead: Uses phrases that validate the other person’s feelings instead.
“I hear you, but…”
Nothing says invalidating more than this particular sentence. Everything you say before the “but” makes no difference to the fact that you’re adding a “but” to the sentence. It unabashedly insinuates that you think your idea is better than theirs and the former part of the sentence is to simply lessen the blow.
What to say instead: Swap the “but” with an “and”.
“Does that make sense?”
This phrase can be deciphered by the tone used while saying it. Using it to question someone if they comprehend what you just said can damage their confidence. While you may be trying to ensure that everyone on the team understood what you said, it can somehow end up sounding condescending.
What to say instead: Say “How does that sound?” or “Do you have any thoughts?” instead.