5 ‘Helpful’ Comments You Should Probably Erase From Your Vocabulary

Do your depressed cousin or unemployed friend a favor: Leave these gems of advice unsaid.

lousy comments depressedRobinOlimb/iStock (talk bubble), Wavebreakmedia/iStock (background)

Silence is golden, especially if you’re about to stick your foot in your mouth. Keep those Keds firmly on the ground where they belong by avoiding these cringe-worthy observations to friends in need.

“You’re depressed? Cheer up”
Telling an unhappy person to cheer up can have the unintended effect of making them even more miserable. After all, if they could get out of their funk, they would have, says Adam Kaplin, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at Johns Hopkins University. Instead, he told the Huffington Post, make sure they know you’re there for them. “Just listening to what that person is going through and saying something like, ‘Wow, that must be hard,’ gives them validation.”

“You got laid off? Cool! Are you enjoying your time off?”
Chances are, rather than jetting off to Cancun or catching up with their Walking Dead episodes, your friend is fretting over mounting bills, how to find that next job, and grappling with humiliation. If you’re still dead set on saying something, make sure it’s also not, “Everything happens for a reasons.” Only deliver this loaded cliché after your friend has landed a new job. So what should you say to your unemployed friend? How about, “Let’s go get a drink, or some dinner.” Anything to make ’em forget they’re jobless for even a little bit, suggests TheWeek.com.

13 things dog puppy eyesAndrewHelwich/iStock

“Your dog died? Get another one!”
Any dog owner will tell you, dogs aren’t so easily replaceable. They’re little sentient beings, each with their own unique way of worming themselves into our hearts. As Carol Bryant writes on pet360.com, “A life is irreplaceable, no matter the form it takes.”

“You’re in a wheel chair… here, let me help.”
This is a tricky one, because everyone can use a helping hand once in awhile. But the handicapped have lost a lot of independence, says wheelchair-bound Rachelle Friedman on a blog on  themobilityresource.com. True, there are many things she can’t do, but there are many things she can. “So if I’m at the store and you see me bending down to pick up my cell phone, just give me a chance to get it,” she says. “I promise that people in my situation have gotten used to asking for help, so we won’t hesitate to ask if we truly need it.”

scale may be wrong miscalculate clothingCallaLily/iStock

“Why are you on a diet? You don’t look that big.”
Compliments are always welcome, unless it comes off as pandering. If someone feels they need to lose weight, chances are they do. As one bitter dieter told Huffpost, “I don’t look that big? Hello, I’m 100 pounds over weight. Stop your lying to me.”

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Andy Simmons
Andy Simmons is a features editor at Reader's Digest.