Thursday, January 26, 2012

Conversational miscues - Say What Now?

Heated debate ensued yesterday because I answered a question with the phrase, "Hmm... interesting." Now in my mind, when I say this it's because I 1) find what was just said interesting 2) need more time to marinate on what was said or 3) have nothing else to add at that time. Apparently however, when I use this phrase it is perceived as me saying, "I don't agree but I don't want to argue, keep it moving." Hmm... interesting.

I definitely have some conversational tells in my lexicon. 
As I'm becoming irritated:  "You know what..." 
When I'm flummoxed: "Uh... alrighty then"
Starting off a long-winded story: "So the other day..."
Wrapping up a phone conversation: "Well okay girl..."
In the middle of an argument that I'm losing: "This is not working for me"

But when I asked others how they perceived those phrases, they had a multitude of varying interpretations. One of my exes would ask me how I was doing and I would answer, "Just peachy." This drove him crazy - he thought I was being flippant. But um... I really was just peachy.

Another hated when I said, "Whatever!" He found that dismissive (it was). Another has a tell where every time he was about to spout some shiggity he started with, "Let me be honest with you.." I knew whatever came next was Pulitzer-worthy fiction. (Also "Can I be honest with you for a second?" Pauseworthy. Are you saying you haven't been honest all along? :-/)

One would ask, "How's your calendar looking?" That was code for "I feel neglected and you need to make time for me." Another would make sure I was understanding him with, "You feel me, right?" And I would co-sign, "Totally!" Had. No. Clue.

I had a boss who started a sentence, "Here's the situation..." we knew it wasn't going to be good. Phrases like "Do you have a minute?" (when the person plans on taking a half hour) "Now that you mention it.." (means they've been dying to say something and are so glad you brought it up)

Yesterday's conversation got me to thinking - what are the little throwaway phrases we use everyday and how are they perceived? Do you have a segue phrase to move a conversation along, wrap it up or express displeasure? Do share...


maureen said...

I  hate fighting, being confrontational. If I see that is  where the conversation is heading   I go " you know what, it is not that serious."
flummoxed; huh.. really.... ok.

Reads4Pleasure said...

I've been told that I'm guilty of saying, texting & tweeting "mmm hmm," which is apparently open for interpretation.  It means a variety of things, I guess, but a lot of times, it's just an acknowledgement with nothing to add.  I also get the deep sigh when I respond with "ok" to questions or statements that are, according to some, begging for more.  Sometimes, mmm hmm and ok really are the only responses necessary in my opinion.

TrulyPC said...

1. "Whatever"-- this is a quick go to for a multitude of situations for me.

2. "I hear what you're saying"-- means whatever, but mostly might sweet way of saying that we are going to have to agree to disagree.

3. "Do what you feel"-- means whatever, and mostly used in the "I don't care, gon' on somewhere" situations.

AGrownAzzMan said...

I have a couple:
Sure is used to agree without enthusiasm.
Ok means I heard you, don't agree but don't want to prolong the conversation.

thinklikeRiley said...

Apparently saying "Look here" and "Nah son" before every sentence is "abrasive"
Riley ont care doe.

Jeannette said...

I have several.  I'm not a phone person so i end it with "Alright 'den" .  When i'm REALLY excited to spit some gossip i go like "Yoooooo bus' THIS!".   When I'm about to share my opinion about something it's "Man Listen... "   When i'm not really listening to you it's "Gotcha" or "Wowwwww for real?".  

SingLikeSassy said...

This makes me laugh. Me, my mom and Mr. XSLS had a running joke that when he says "Hmmm, let me meditate on that for a bit" what he really means is "hell naw" but he's trying to be nice. It got to the point where we would ask him something and add, "and don't say you're going to meditate on that for a bit either!" LOL!

Lemme see. When I say, "I guess" I really mean "whatever."
Um, huh? = I'm about to hit you with a bunch of excuses cause I didn't do something I was sposed to. LOL

I'm pretty sure I have others, and as I think of them I will post.

Rexi44 said...

Seems like my friends all have a different meaning for "whatever". From one it's "I'm bored with this, let"s move on" and another is saying "yeah, you're right, but damned if I'll admit it" and a third one is saying "huh? I really wasn't listening". 

Oh Stewardess said...

"Erm..." = I don't agree... and here's why...

Just_A_Thought1218 said...

You and I are right >here< with "You know what..."  I pull that out, and it's best you let the conversation end before I slice you to pieces with my words.

"Whatever" is a standard flippant phrase I use.  I think it's universally understood that a woman's "whatever" is the equivalent to "eff you".  Ahem.

For me, my biggest tell that I'm very angry is the increase in formality and vocabulary complexity.  If you find yourself having to mentally translate what I'm saying into colloquialisms, then I am seconds away from blackout rage. 

GuessImJay said...

Have a co-worker who can not resist the "How's that working out for ya?" I don't think he realizes how close he is to getting punched daily.

Anthony said...

Phrase: Alright then, let me let you get back to what you were doing.

Translation:  I'm tired hearing this bullshiggity you're talking about and want to get off the phone.

CaliGirlED said...

Whatever = I don't want to talk about it anymore.
Huh? (when clearly I heard you) = my 1st thought is not an appropriate response.
Yeah, ok = be stupid if you want to
Alrighty then = Really now???

Silence = (in my Loretta Devine voice, with my teeth clutched tight) You bet get outta my face!

blackprofessor said...

Me and you are here, Caligirl! Same phrases = same translation for me except Yeah, ok.

Uh ok = is this fool serious?

The Husky Bro said...

...Okay, the situation is...

Depends on the conversation, a well placed "mmm hmm" could mean anything from "ah, okay" to having the emotional effect of the atomic bomb being dropped on Nagasaki.  And don't let the "ok" be followed up by "The Look", Jesus.

Game over, man, game over!

The Husky Bro said...

Every dude on the planet knows...when something's wrong with Baby, something is wrong with everybody.  I will admit, sometimes, I don't pick up on those tell-tale signs that one needs to BEWARE all the time, but I do know that when my Doll, who has the vocabulary of about 14.3 Million words drops down to "mmm hmm" or "Okay". 

75% of the time I'm like "what does she mean by that?" LOL

Deb B said...

This is too funny - JUST had this conversation with a guy. He asked, "Now when you say Okay - does that mean it's really okay or okay, you're done talking?" I told him, I'll only say it's okay if it really is.

SouthernWes said...

Me: Baby, what's wrong?
Her: Nothing
Me: Aw shit...
Nothing is always something and that something is never good. <-- that made sense in my head

Rob said...

Man, listen - here are the ones that scare me:
Means it's bad and worse because I don't know what it is

"What you pick is alright by me"
Means you better pick what I'm thinking our your side of the bed will cold tonight

"I'm fine"
She's not fine and she's plotting revenge

I'm told I have six different ways that I say "Woo" that range from excitement to frustration to totally ignorance.

TheTravelDiva said...

Mmmm hmmmm....I'm not buyin' the bulldookie you're serving.
WhatEVER...*insert side eye, eye roll or hard stare* I'm done talking with you.
Well, then there's that...Seriously?! or that's another option (that I doubt I would do)
Well, okay den...Really?! but count me out.
I'm not the best step off with that mess 'cause...I'm NOT the one.

Regina said...

Okay, so yeah, I would agree that "Hmm, interesting" means you're not feeling the topic and want to move on. Because that's what I use it for :)

One that everyone in my family uses is "Mmm." Real short grunt. Means whatever you just said? Not making a lick of sense to anybody.

I also say "Yeah, all that" to dismiss someone's opinion I don't agree with, or if someone is telling me to do something that I know I'm not going to. "You gotta bundle up in the morning, make sure you have a scarf around your ears." "Yeah, all that."

Regina said...

See, me and the s/o get into because of stuff just like this! "What do you mean, 'Ok'? That's all you have to add?"

Drives me nuts! I guess I can see the point that someone really may not have anything to say but didn't want to not respond and seem rude, but Ok just sets me off. He's switched to texting "Alright" and it doesn't bug me. No, I can't explain why, it just sounds nicer :)

Only1DivaC said...

Yeah, ok is the same for me too!

Writerz Block Blog said...

When I start responding to people with a yes sir/ma'am, I stopped listening 5 min ago.

And I constantly respond to "how are you" with "trying to be big time like you."  its just a habit. even when i'm talking to interns or employees.  I had one intern tell me it was condescending, then I turned around and did it again the next morning.  #sorry

CaliGirlED said...

I don't know Professor, your uh ok and my yeah ok boil down to pretty much the same thing, STUPIDITY! LMAO

CaliGirlED said...

"...when my Doll, who has the vocabulary of about 14.3 Million words..." *hollers* You know it's not good! LOL

CaliGirlED said...

"Nothing is always something and that something is never good." Yep!

CaliGirlED said...

Means it's bad and worse because I don't know what it is <----THIS!!!

CaliGirlED said...

Oh ok = you're gonna see it my way, eventually

Oh look at you = you do not look cute

GrownAzzMan said...

I have a couple:
1) Sure...said to indicate acceptance and enthusiasm when there is really neither.
2) Ok. Often taken and a show of agreement when it really just means I heard you, I don't agree but really just want that conversation to be over.

GrownAzzMan said...

I have been known to use a variation of that one. "How is that working out for you, so far?"

GammasWorld said...

According to those close to me, apparently my "alright, fine" signals "oh hell GamMa is not happy".     In my head, I'm compromising and agreeing to your next steps even though I think my way is better.  In their minds, it's a big "you have disappointed me and you will feel my wrath later".  

C Nelson said...

I had a co-worker once who insisted that my use of "apparently" (in my head, this is a shorter way of saying "it seems to be", because that's the way I grew up using it and the way my parents use it) was infuriatingly condescending and patronising, because what she heard was "it is clearly apparent, so whatever you said in disagreement is clearly wrong." We agreed to disagree, because mine was as valid a definition as hers, and I wasn't going to drop a correct usage simply because she insisted on taking it the other way despite knowing what I meant by it.

CaliGirlED said...

Yeah I can see that! LOL

GrownAzzMan said...


invectiva said...

Don't get smart. :)

invectiva said...

"Um. Ok." Generally used in chat forums, to my remote staff members, or exceedingly wilful friends. Translation: "I'm not sure why you thought doing that task in that way made any sense at all, but it's done now, and I'll just sit here and roll my eyes heaven-ward where you can't see me." Sometimes accompanied by back-channel conversation with clueful people, where the opening volley is, "Are you effing kidding me?!?"

C Nelson said...

Thbbbpppt.  ;)

Brenda Kay said...

Pardon me? = I know you did not just say that to me!

Hmmm, okay... = Stop with the lying.

Sure, that's okay with me = No, it's not okay, but I'm trying extra hard to compromise.

Yes, it was lovely hearing from you as well. = Next time you call, I won't be answering the phone.

Silence = Walk away and give me a few hours to calm down. 

Tears = Walk away and give me 24 hours to calm down. 

Brneyed1 said...

Whatever = either I've flipped you the bird in my head, or I'm just tired of listening to you.

Ok, ok, ok = please shut up, I heard you the first time.
Say what now? or 'scuze me?  = I KNOW you didn't just say that with a straight face and expect me to accept it.

Do you = depending on the tone I say it with means either:  you're gonna regret that, or;  you're gonna do what you want to do regardless of what I say, so I don't know why you wasted my time talking to me about it.

I see = you're full of sh*t

You're special = you are anything BUT special.

Okay then X = wrapping up a phone call.

Seriously = spoken as a statement it means "You want me to do what? I'm not doing that".  Spoken as a question it means, "can you believe this ish?"

Look! = I'm done with this convo, so I'm gonna say this last thing and walk away.


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