Two Sentences That Make Almost Anything Better

Did you put your foot in your mouth? Say something awkward? Need to make a quick apology? This will help >> yesandyes.org 
Just like every other human in the world I spend a significant portion of my life
a) saying stupid things
b) judging people for saying stupid things
I’ll hate myself a little when I name drop or make a joke that I thought was ‘edgy’ but is really borderline offensive.
I want to turn inside out when I belatedly realize I’m bragging about my happy relationship to a friend who’s going through a messy divorce or when I spend 10 minutes arguing a position that (upon further inspection) is totally, 100% wrong.
I kick myself for snipping at friends or joking about sensitive topics.
And (because I’m human) I’ll internally roll my eyes anytime anyone else does these things.
You’d think that because I can intellectualize this very topic enough to write about it that I’d have the grace and wherewithal to stop acting like a jerk or judging others for acting like jerks.
To which I will say “you are giving me entirely too much credit, dear reader.”
But I recently witnessed a friend recover from a verbal gaffe with so much grace and candor I immediately thought “I love you and I’m going to do that whenever I put my foot in my mouth. And I’m going to tell the internet about it.”
We were nursing gimlets at a popular pub when my usually kind friend noticed a woman in a low-cut top and made a comment that was, well, not very nice.

I sort of blinked and gawped at her uncharacteristically mean comment. She looked me in the eyes and said:

I'm sorry. That was totally uncalled for. Click To Tweet
And then we went back to talking about how she should rearrange her living room.
She didn’t make excuses for her comment. We didn’t dwell on it or dissect it. She acknowledged her mistake and we both moved the eff on.
And I think this could work for just about any verbal misstep. You’re calm, immediately self-aware and about a million times less hurtful. 

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“I’m sorry. That was awkward.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know why I mentioned that.”
“I’m sorry. That was unnecessary.”
“I’m sorry. That was inappropriate.”

Then talk about something else. Of course (of course!) if you’re regularly making hurtful comments, using pejorative terms, or sharing sexual escapades in the breakroom at work, I’d urge you to, uh, stop that immediately. These two magical sentences are not a fix-all for being an asshole.

But I’d like to believe that most of us are kind, good natured, fallible people who occasionally misjudge our audience or fail to think before we speak. When that inevitably happens, these two sentences can help us climb out of that hole we just dug.
What do you do when you realize you’ve misspoke or put your foot in your mouth? I’d love to hear how you deal with it!
photo by sapan patel //cc

11 Comments

StylistSaraMN

So true–I love this. And my favorite line was: "These two magical sentences are not a fix-all for being an asshole." Thanks for making me laugh! 🙂

Reply
Lizzie

I'm constantly putting my foot in my mouth, but so far most people are graceful enough to ignore it or laugh it off. My husband doesn't let me off so easy (which is good, since he puts up with the majority of my foot-in-mouth moments, and when I say something thoughtless in front of him I tend to chase it with "Wow, that came out wrong." But I like the firmer "I'm sorry, that was uncalled for" better!

Reply
LouLou

Conversely – if you find yourself frequently prefacing things you say with these phrases, that might be an issue too. Lol. "I know this might be inappropriate, but…" or "I shouldn't say this, but…"

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The Rachael Way

Sometimes I notice I do or say things that aren't very nice, but instead of apologizing I dissect how it really WASN'T THAT BAD, etc. I like this phrase because you still take ownership of what you said, but don't need to spend hours dissecting it.

Reply
Kaleena's Kaleidoscope

It's true, apologizing is done so rarely these days that it can actually catch you off guard. My sister hasn't been very involved in my life lately and I finally sent her a text calling her out on it. I expected her to be defensive, to make excuses, and I had mentally rehearsed my entire speech laying into her. Instead, she surprised me with, "You're right. I haven't been very supportive lately and I'm sorry." I was so surprised, it's really hard to stay mad after that. And it at least lays the groundwork for moving forward and fixing things. It's taught me to try to apologize more often, too!

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Anonymous

My favorite is Lorelei in Gilmore Girls. She says something mean to Sookie and immediately goes: "Wow, zero to jackass in 3.2 seconds," and says that she's really sorry and it's never okay for her to talk to Sookie like that.

Another favorite is how to admit you were wrong about something or that your argument has been proven false: "I stand corrected." Something about its formality saves face while not being defensive. I also like "Wow, shows you what I know," and "Oop–I tell a lie!"

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