Foot-In-Mouth Phraseology | Mark’s Remarks - Republic-Times | News

Foot-In-Mouth Phraseology | Mark’s Remarks

By on April 25, 2018 at 9:15 am

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said something I shouldn’t, I’d probably have a little bit of cash. Or maybe I’m forgetting some of the things I’ve said and I’d have a lot more. In any case, there have been plenty of times I’ve “stepped in it” or, as the old saying goes, put my “foot in my mouth.”

One of our buddies in junior high didn’t smell very good.  He was a clean kid as far as anyone could tell, but apparently had not been introduced to deodorant. When he came around, we held our breath.  Even those of us who fancied ourselves tough, manly men (did any of us fancy ourselves that?) would have admitted to cringing when he stood near.

We were all standing in a circle on the playground one day, talking about various topics. Before I knew it, I had said aloud how much that kid stunk.   I hadn’t realized where I was or what I was saying. When I came to my senses, I realized the stinker was standing right next to me. Dang.

I’d like to believe I’ve learned a little tact in the years between then and now, and I recently read an article about things you shouldn’t really say to anyone else. The article listed the top 10 things you should avoid saying.

“You look tired.” This is something people have told me before and I’m pretty sure I’ve said it, too. I’ve looked in the mirror after I’ve been told this and noticed I didn’t look like my usual handsome self. I guess when you tell people this, it implies that they don’t look their best. Maybe it’s a comment we should reserve for family members or those close to us. It may be meant to be a caring comment, but really it is veiled criticism. It may be a better bet to inquire if all is well. “You doin’ alright today?”

I know I’ve said “Wow! You’ve lost a ton of weight!” to people before. Probably more than once. Sure, it’s meant as a compliment. But the article I read says, again, that saying this to someone creates the impression you are a critical person.  You are actually saying that he or she was once obese, unattractive, or at an undesirable weight. It’s better to just say, “You look great!” This could also be said in place of “You look great for your age.” Good heavens.

How many times, in our younger years, did we make a comment on a break-up of a friend and a significant other, only to find out in a few days that the lovebirds got back together? Never say, “You were too good for him/her.” It’s better to say, “Her/his loss.”

Simple comments are often better.

You’ve probably been in an argument or discussion with someone and have used the words “always” or “never” with the word “you” in front of it.  Sound familiar? If you are using either phrase in an argument, it’s not fair. It might be necessary to point out that someone is doing something over and over. OK, point taken.  

Try using the word “often” or say “this has happened enough that I’ve noticed.” Try not to be so absolute about it all.

You might be in a conversation with someone and feel the need to repeat yourself. Never say, “As I said before.” Heck. I say this a lot. If you say this, it insinuates that the person you are talking to isn’t listening or you are ticked off because you have to repeat yourself. Figure out a way to restate what you said before, perhaps in a way that gets the message across a little better.

Everyone could use a dose of good fortune or a slap on the back from a well-wisher. When someone you know is about to attempt something or go on some type of challenge, tell them you know they can do it or that there’s no better person for the job. This may be more meaningful for them than the words “good luck.”

It drives me crazy when someone says “whatever you want” or “it’s up to you.” That’s a lot of pressure. Michelle and I have this running joke about finding a place to eat. One day, I finally said “I will never for the rest of our lives together care one way or another about where we eat.” Still, she asks me where I’d like to go when we have an outing to a restaurant.  The article I read suggests saying “I don’t have a strong opinion either way” or just make a couple of suggestions.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone ahead and suggested, only to have Michelle say “Oh, not there.” It’s probably a quirky, funny thing most married couples deal with.

Please don’t think I’m using the fodder from this article I read to preach to you. I need to go over it and put my spin on it to hear it again. The authors of the article make good points, but I have to admit I laughed out loud when I read it.

Because I’ve pretty much said every wrong phrase in the article.  

Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.