Pet Peeve Officially Identified as Rude

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The article is poorly titled -- "People With 'Poor Speech Etiquette' Always Use These 7 'Rude' Phrases, Says Public Speaking Expert" (always? really?) -- but it has merit.

The piece is a list of what I long ago mentally filed as verbal tics. These are phrases and forms of expression (including intonations like fry register and verbal question marks) that somehow become popular and that drive me crazy, especially when I have to deal with people who are prone to them.

In any event, the popular press occasionally notices these and ticks them off, with the article under discussion being the latest I've encountered.

First on the list is something that seems to be on the decline already, but I'd love to see disappear altogether:

Image by Jon Tyson, via Unsplash, license.
1. "Do you want to ...?"

This phrase is great when you're offering someone a choice ("Do you want to go to lunch with me?"). But as a way of delivering orders ("Do you want to take out the trash?"), its indirect fake-politeness comes across as belittling.

What to say instead: State your request directly. It's courteous to broach a request by asking, "Will you do me a favor?" After all, people generally like to pitch in. But they don't like to feel manipulated. [bold in original]
Every time someone does this, I have to fight the temptation to make a witty or sarcastic reply: And I have yielded on several occasions when I thought it might help the other person become aware of how badly this lands when they do it.

I am glad to see articles like this appear from time to time: Popular culture has a way of normalizing things like this that many people are susceptible to (or simply don't notice since "everyone's doing it") and then adopt as habits, causing them to stick out like sore thumbs once the fad has died down.

But this habit? Yes. It comes across as very rude, and I think it would be a kindness to tip off anyone still doing it.

-- CAV

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