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I wrote a post a while back about how we use the word “hate” too much. I have been meaning to write this as a follow-up to that. Hate isn’t the only word we need to be wary of or use less.
I believe in speaking mindfully. Society has taught us to blurt out whatever we think and not consider the consequences. We care only for how we feel in the moment, and not for how our words make others feel. While it’s true that some people are too sensitive, it is still our responsibility to speak with good intention and not carelessly use words and phrases that can harm others.
“Stupid” is a word used too often. Would you like to be called stupid? Would you like it if someone called your idea, dream or way of life stupid? It’s hurtful. Often the truth is not that you think something is stupid, but that you don’t understand it, like it or agree with it. Perhaps you feel it isn’t well thought out. You could say any of those things rather than calling someone or something stupid or dumb. “Idiot” also falls into this category.
“Well, duh!” or “Um, yeah!” are often used when you think something is obvious. These phrases are dismissive and hurtful. To the other person, something may not be obvious. Take a breath and make sure all is clear. You can’t know another’s mind, and what seemed so basic and clear to you might not be to another.
“That’s gay” An inanimate object, color or action cannot in itself be homosexual, so the phrase is utterly inaccurate. It’s also degrading to homosexuals. This phrase is always used as an insult, indicating that it has some association with homosexuality, and that it’s a bad thing. There’s no need for sayings like this one.
Most negative adjectives could be used far less as well. Ugly, fat, lazy, worthless and so on are not kind words. What’s more important is the fact that most adjectives applied to people are purely subjective. Three people could all look at the same person and use different descriptors. Any of them may be right or wrong. It can take time to learn, but there are more accurate ways of describing someone or something.
A person isn’t ugly, but you may find them unattractive. There’s a difference between implying a fact and making it clear that something is simply your personal opinion. “You’re fat.” Implies a fact that the person should feel bad about. “I think you’re overweight.” lets the person know it’s your perception, and may or may not be a fact.
Are you careful with what you say and how you say it? What words or phrases do you think we could use less and be better off for?