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· Lighten up. Life’s not that serious.
· Lighten up. I was only kidding.
When someone is being overly “serious” at least according to you, what are the chances that telling the person to “lighten up” is going to make a difference? Almost none. When you say this, it comes across as insensitive, and lecturing, because you are ordering someone to feel differently. It just doesn’t work.
Even worse, the second example is often used as a way to put the responsibility for hurt feelings on the person who’s feelings are hurt, while you abdicate any responsibility. You put yourself in a bad light.
The kicker is that this phrase tells the person, “what you are feeling is wrong”. That tends to cause the other person to shut down, and stop sharing his or her feelings.
Make It Better:
· I’m sorry if my joke offended you. I didn’t realize that would happen.
· I can see this could be a sensitive point for you.
· Is this situation really as bad as you might think right now? What’s the worst that can happen?