I have very few pet peeves. Naturally, as I sit down to write, I can’t think of any of my pet peeves. Oh wait. Here’s one – I hate it when I sit down to write and I can’t remember anything.
For many years, and possibly forever, I have had an extreme dislike of any conversation that begins with, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but…” I mean, who’s to say what’s wrong in the first place? What if it’s your communication level that isn’t up to snuff? Moreover, prefacing anything with this cringe-worthy phrase typically has me suspicious and closed off from the start.
Don’t take this the wrong way, but when you eat lemon poppy seed muffins, you have poppy seeds in your teeth, like, all day long. And don’t take this wrong, because I don’t mean anything by this, but you had garlic that day too and a few pickles. I’m just saying, you know?
Really? Barf. What are you saying? Seriously.
Wouldn’t it be more direct to just say,
Hey, you have poppy seeds in your teeth and total dragon breath. Here’s some floss. Go get some toothpaste, a toothbrush, a tongue cleaner, a Water Pik and some Scope while you’re at it.
Now, the latter message, I totally get. I’m not offended, but rather appreciative that someone has been fully honest with me.
So… I believe that, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but…” or “I don’t mean anything by this…” are somewhat dishonest in that they seem to encompass fear and a hesitancy or discomfort to just say something direct and honest. As if prefacing anything with, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but…” softens a message.
I’m not suggesting we walk around hurting other’s feelings about halitosis or any other issue, but I think there’s a better way to say it, whatever it is.
I’ll even go so far as to state that, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but…” is a concrete problem with the communicator and has nothing to do with the individual who is about to perceive something. Just put it out there well, and it will likely be received accordingly. At least it will be easy to understand.
I hope I haven’t offended you with my harsh opinion of, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but…”
That’s it. Straight up.