So here’s the thing. I hate these three phrases/words.
The people who use them are offended by someone drawing their attention to other’s genuine discomfort or emotional pain. And if you are offended by someone trying to explain to you that you could be more considerate, you are not a listener, you are one of those people who talks over everyone else.
Yes, you are effectively Donald Trump.
Let me give you a crap analogy. You are a physical person, and greet friends with a friendly hug. That’s fine, isn’t it? No-one minds a hug, it’s a sign of affection and should be construed that way.
Except this one person has a painful shoulder. Possibly they have a surgical implant that is hugely tender, or an RSI, or permanent joint pain. Whatever it is, it’s a minor constant wound you can’t see under their clothes. And every time you see them, you hug that wound and it hurts.
So they say “Hey, please don’t do that. It hurts”. And a reasonable response to that would be “Oh I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you, what’s wrong?”, which opens a conversation where the person can explain the problem, and (this is the important bit) YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR BEHAVIOUR BASED ON NEW INFORMATION.
The unreasonable response is to say “That’s a load of crap! That can’t hurt, I do it to all my friends, you are over-reacting MASSIVELY and you have offended me by implying I would want to hurt you. See all those people over there? They LIKE to be hugged, they take it in the spirit it’s given! Put your big girl pants on*, man up*, and accept this is the way the world is.” The other person tries to explain just why it hurts, but you keep shouting the same thing in different ways, and (this is the important bit) YOU CONTINUE HURTING THE WOUNDED PERSON BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO ACCEPT YOU CAN CHANGE.
People who think the world can be better, that people can be better, they are not the enemy. They are trying to get you to think, to step outside what you may have grown up with, so that you can be part of positive change. Sure, all groups of people have their diehards who won’t change – that’s a simple fact – but (this is the VERY important bit):
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ONE OF THEM.
You can choose to listen, to grow, to change. That’s not a weakness, it’s a sign of intelligence and an enquiring mind. Because frankly, why would anyone want to stay bullish and ignorant? All you ever hear if you surround yourself with those who agree with you is a hellish echo chamber.
If you listen, properly listen to people, I guarantee you will hear things that yes, will make you angry, or frustrated, or occasionally genuinely fuming, but you will also get an understanding that your experience of the world is not the sum total. And in that, is a genuine beauty.
*I also dislike these phrases, but I’m prepared to let it slide. Today.