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· Hey, I was only joking, don’t be so sensitive.
· I was only joking, I didn’t mean you’re fat.
Explanation: Humor and Passive Aggressiveness
Should this be in the top ten worst phrases? Maybe. It’s certainly all too common, and there’s probably not a person anywhere who hasn’t used this phrase, or one similar. On the other hand, its’ effect depends on the strength of the relationships, whether humor is used in the relationship, and the context in which it’s used.
If you say something to someone you care about, let’s say off the top of your head, in an effort to be funny, and you realize the other person’s feelings are hurt, you CAN use this phrase, but ONLY if you couple it with an apology. If you find yourself saying this rather often, it may indicate a relationship issue that goes far beyond the language you use.
If you are resentful or have unresolved anger, it could be reflected in snarky comments, even without your conscious intent to hurt. Then you have to pull it back by using the “I was only joking” phrase. Don’t kid yourself. The other person knows you feel there’s some truth in your barbs. Handling resentment in this passive-aggressive way lessens trust.
On the other hand, the other person may be hypersensitive to a number of topics and issues, about which you like to joke. Perhaps someone else might not be hurt, but that’s not the point. YOUR important person is offended.
Communicating with someone with a lot of hypersensitivities is difficult and if you want the relationship to work, you have to think before you speak. It doesn’t matter who is right, and who is over-sensitive. The two of you have to find some middle ground that accommodates each others’ peculiarities.
If you often use this phrase, ask yourself why you use it so often. If it’s just a bad habit, or you tend to joke around without thinking, do something about it. If you care.
If it’s something more than that, and your resentment comes out in this passive aggressive way, consider couple counselling. Using humor to express resentment may indicate a serious relationships issue.
Make It Better:
What DO you do if you make an attempt at humor and the other person is clearly hurt, angry or upset?
· I was trying to be funny, but it didn’t come out right, did it? I’m sorry.
· I shouldn’t have said that. I know you are sensitive about your weight, and I thought I could joke about it, but I was wrong. Sorry.