CATCH PHRASES YOU SHOULD QUIT SAYING
"I meant to..."
Translation: "I thought of you, and then immediately thought of something better." It's not always the thought that counts.
"I'm sorry you feel that way."
An apology doesn't need to be long or repetitious. You just need to mean it, and to acknowledge that you were wrong not that someone thought you were wrong.
"I'm not here to make friends."
Reality TV contestants say that to each other all the time. Seriously. Search the phrase on YouTube. Know when that attitude helps in the real world? Never.
"It's a win--win."
Say that and other people hear, "I win and you lose, but you won't realize that for another 2 weeks when I'm nowhere to be found, so in the end, I win twice."
"How much do I owe?"
Long division is for the classroom, not the restaurant. Pick up the check once in a while and you won't feel guilty when your friends do it. It all evens out.
"Here's what you should do."
Girls are right: You don't have to fix every problem. Listening is its own form of help. So let her or your buddy vent, and offer direction only if they ask, "What should I do?"
Anything you scream over live music.
We're not sure why you're at the show if you're not listening, but rest assured everyone else paid $100 to hear "Jungleland," not what you had for dinner. And when you scream into somebody's ear, it hurts.
It's like a British car on U.S. roads: ill fitting and dangerous.
"Oh, I know. That's like when I..."
When a person's telling a story, this is not an invitation to break in with your own anecdote. Your pal has the floor. When it's your turn, you'll appreciate his silence.
"Can you help me move?"
It's fun to move friends into dorm rooms, not into real homes. If you have a job, come on: Pony up for movers. Then you can invite your friends over for a housewarming party. You'll be amazed how much beer they're happy to carry in themselves.
"I'm a good multitasker."
No, you're not. Nobody is. And as you peck at your BlackBerry under the dinner table, everyone is silently offended. But at least whoever you're writing is enjoying a lousy e-mail.
"When are you going to stop talking?"
Maybe you're not saying it out loud, but we can all see it on your unengaged face. If a conversation bores you, make it better by contributing.
Healthy disagreement makes you an interesting guy to talk to. Dismissing someone's idea entirely makes you a radio yakker.
"Call you back later, okay?"
Men have a hard enough time reaching out. When your friend says, "Hey, I need to talk," he isn't being casual. He's downplaying. And whatever else you're doing can wait.