Based on self-survey and observation of my surroundings, I have recklessly come out with the list of top 5 common answers we (I assume) often hear that terrify us the most. It is still subject to changes and surprises, though. You’re the most welcome to participate in the discussion!
Here is the top 5 list:
1. IT’S NICE
Well, it’s nice to receive a feedback on our work with an “IT’S NICE”. However, it kind of shows that the remark giver doesn’t really know what to comment and the easiest resort to turn to without hurting our feelings is “IT’S NICE”. Unless, (there’s always the exception to the rule, right?) the person is not an English native speaker and he/ she knows no adjectives to describe something that is of good quality other than the word “good” and “NICE”. Safe and sound.
I mean, it’d be great if we bake cookies and offer the person to taste them, and the comment would be something along the line of “Thanks, it tastes yummy and crunchy” and not “IT’S NICE”. Or, the answer to “how do you think the dress looks on me?” would be “it’s pretty, it fits you like a glove” and not merely “IT’S NICE”. Although I do sometimes utter this easy-to-use phrase, I want to make a commitment to change this year. It’s definitely more pleasant to know our friends are racking their brain to search for adjectives that best describe our work, right?
2. I DON’T KNOW
I feel like chopping my head off and throw it into the sea whenever I hear somebody, myself included, saying this forbidden three-word answer. It seems like it has become a part of human nature to say so whenever we feel helpless and clueless, I guess. It’s like a shortcut to an unending route of confusion and frustration which ends up with unfortunately more confusion and frustration.
Imagine this scenario:
You are going to hold a banquet to welcome your best buddy who has gone overseas for education/ work and this is the first time in five years he/ she is going to be home. You are in charge of the guests invitation, place decoration, and your buddy’s pick-up at the airport, not to mention that you still have to source for catering from different establishments. One day before the D-Day, you drag along one of your “reliable” friends to shop for your signature homemade desserts’ ingredients. As you go through the shopping lists making sure that you don’t miss out any ingredients, you receive a call from your buddy that he/ she takes an early flight to surprise you and that he/ she requests you to pick him/ her up at that moment. Without hesitation, you agree to it since he/ she is your best buddy after all. You confidently hand over the shopping task to your “reliable” friend, “Hey, I’m gonna fetch Suzy at the airport now. Can you handle all this for me?” When you think that the percentage of your expectation of hearing “Sure!” is most likely 100%, you are ready to leave.
All of a sudden, you stop your stride exploding with confusion and frustration as you hear “I DON’T KNOW”.
Sorry, I really don’t know.
“Do you want me to snip this beautiful-shiny-smooth-well-shampooed-and-treated hair which I have willed to grow for the past ten years?”
My heart broke.
Even before the full word comes out from one’s mouth, most of the time we can already anticipate this strong word being spoken. Just 0.1 second after the person we are talking to brings their tongue forward towards their teeth, we are able to grasp the idea that the answer is not going to be “yes”. Try to position your tongue as mentioned and say “yes”. That’d be awkward, trust me, don’t attempt this in public.
Somehow we are more sensitive to negative answers than positive ones. Judging from the knitting of the eyebrows, tightening of lips, and disappointed or sometimes stern look, we know that our wishes have just been shattered. It’s (ab)normal when what we want to have is not granted, the defensive and rebellious spirit within us will soar to sky-high and we will be wailing like a child being desperate for lollies.
Even Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift include it into their songs: “NEVER EVER SAY NEVER” although obviously they have already said out the word they say they are not allowed to say, ever.
The intensity of negative answer is amplified with the word “NEVER”. Again, it’s context-based. If a person asks whether we have ever jumped off 50-storey building two times and our answer is not “NEVER”, something needs to be investigated. Most probably the brain. If a postman knocks on our door, sends the wrong parcels, and we happen to be in a bad mood, “NEVER come again!”. If we feel overwhelmed and defeated, “I wish I’d NEVER been born!”. If we hear somebody close to our heart is feeling discouraged, ” NEVER say NEVER!” and buy him/ her Justin Bieber’s CD. I mean, if I were the postman, me, and the somebody close to somebody else’s heart, I wouldn’t want to hear “NEVER” and would perhaps return the CD?
How about you? What are your top 5 most dreaded answers?