We all have our ‘off’ days – those days when you can do everything right and yet, have everything come crashing down or bear no fruit. It can start off with something as simple as burning your family’s breakfast or forgetting to act on that email your boss sent across, to accidentally losing your car keys or burning the family’s dinner too! And on such days, when all we want to really do is whine or mope about feeling bad for ourselves, there will be that one well-wisher, who has to come along and say something like – ‘Be positive! It’s okay!’
There are some things that you do say to someone to offer them comfort. And then there are things that make the person going through a bad day wish that you hadn’t even spoken. So the next time you lend your loved one a sympathetic ear and listen to them go on about their bad day, avoid saying any of the below things!
10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone Having a Bad Day
1. “Think positive!”
We’ve covered this above but we’re sure you know why this deserves a second mention. Positive thoughts are great and they can help pull you out of a rut, but don’t make a person feel like it’s their negative attitude that’s the cause of their problem. On some days, things just don’t work out. Call it the law of the universe or whatever, but skip the ‘positive thinking can solve everything’ advice for the time-being. A reassuring hug would work better.
2. “Everything is going to be just fine!”
You may think that you’re reassuring the person, but if they are going through something that isn’t simply fixable, you’re just going to make them feel worse. Instead, figure out what the problem is and try and help them with practical solutions (again, don’t throw about random ideas that pop into your head; make sure your suggestions are worthwhile). And if you feel like the solutions are definitely going to solve their issues, then maybe a dose of “it’s all going to be okay” may not be that bad!
3. “It’s probably all for the best…”
Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t – but if someone’s day has been spoiled because they didn’t get something they’ve worked hard for or wished for fervently, this statement may not go down well with them. If your loved one had probably put in twice the hours at work for a promotion or was hoping to nail an interview, and their efforts didn’t bear fruit, comfort them. Let them know that you’re there for them. But don’t let the consolatory “it’s all for the best” or “God works in mysterious ways” pop out of your mouth immediately. These may seem like empty words to the person at the time, further spoiling their mood.
4. “I know what you’re going through; when this happened to me…”
You may be saying so to make your loved one feel better, but unless you truly know what they’re experiencing, right down to the fine details, this statement may come across as patronizing. If you give examples of what you’ve experienced similarly (and unintentionally, make it look like your problems were much bigger), the person may end up feeling guilty or irritated. And neither of those are a good way to feel after a bad day!
5. “It’s not that big a deal. There are people worse off than you.”
This is a variation of the previous statement, when you compare someone’s problems to the rest of the world’s. But this time, you actually pronounce their issues as invalid just because someone else has gone through worse. That’s not very fair to the person having a bad day, is it? Their problems may not seem like a big deal to you; or to them too, once they’ve found solutions to them! But if they’re upset about something, don’t diminish what they are going through; they’ll probably consider it as salt on a sore wound.
No, no, no! Don’t condense your feelings into this (seemingly) indifferent statement! While you may actually be at a loss for words on how to comfort your loved one, simply uttering an “okay” may make it look like you could hardly care about what they’re going through. Don’t know what to say? Wrap them in a loving hug and ensure them that you’re there for them, no matter what.
7. “He/she always is creating some or the other problem, huh?”
If someone’s going through a bad day because they’ve had a fight with their partner, by no means should you put the partner down! It may be their fault, it may not be; however, not only would you be making them feel bad about what their partner did, but it frankly isn’t your place to comment on such issues! There’s also the trouble that will follow when the couple patches up after their fight and you end up looking like the bad guy – why invite unnecessary trouble for yourself?
8. “Don’t think too much about it.”
Again, not the best thing to say to someone who’s probably thinking (or over-thinking) every aspect of their day gone wrong! It’s not in everyone’s nature to go through something troubling, then box away their feelings for the rest of the day, pretending that nothing happened. Also, chances are that the person already knows that they’re over-thinking – don’t make them feel bad about it.
9. “Stop being such a cry-baby!”
This is just a downright insensitive and mean thing to say to someone who’s having a bad day – pretty much like kicking them when they’re down in the dumps! If you don’t have a comforting word to share, then it’s best to remember that sometimes, silence is golden. We live in such negative times now; why be unkind when you actually have the choice to make someone feel better?
10. Cliched Statements
Yes, the person will know that “time heals everything”. Or that there’s “something better right around the corner”. But when they’re feeling low, avoid feeding them these oft-repeated lines. They’re just going to sound like lines from a sympathy card in a gift shop.
So What Are the Right Things to Say?
Don’t go for the ready-made empathetic statements that won’t make much of a difference to the person hearing them. Instead, share what you actually feel, which could even be –
- “I’m so sorry this happened to you.”
- “Is there anything else you’d like to tell me?”
- “Thank you for sharing this with me, it means a lot!”
- “I’m here for you, anytime you need. We got this!”
- “How can I help you right now?”
- “I really wish I could make this better for you.”
These aren’t solution statements. There aren’t any, considering that there’s no instruction manual when it comes to being empathetic. But these statements are more genuine, open, and will make the person hearing them feel comfortable and understand that you honestly care about them. And like we’ve said before, if you don’t know what to say, show your love and concern through a loving hug or a gentle squeeze of the hand.
Bad days happen to everyone. All you have to do is think of the things you do not want to hear from someone on your ‘off’ day. And if you know saying similar things would do no one any good, it’s best to keep it to yourself, right?