The 3 Most Annoying Words in the English Language
Just. You. Wait.
These three little words comprise one of the most irritating phrases in the English language.
I know I've been guilty of saying them myself here and there, but I hereby vow to stop cold turkey. Won't you join me in helping to eradicate this smug and unpleasant utterance? It's not just the words themselves that offend, but the sentiment behind them, so let's get rid of that as well.
Here are three situations that will explain what I mean.
Just You Wait, Newlywed
I remember being a starry-eyed newlywed, blissfully in love and dreaming of a bright and unblemished future ahead of me. I was so happy to be married and living in a home of my own—no more roommates or apartments—and I honestly felt like I was playing house at first.
Every now and then, a veteran married person (you know 5+ years) would ask, "So, how's married life?" And I'd share how I happy I was, with a small detail or two thrown in, such as, "You know what's really great? Since he spent so many years as a single dad, he is so appreciative of anything I do for him. He knows what it's like to have to do everything by himself, so he never takes me for granted."
And the response, quite often, would be, "Just you wait. He'll get used to it and start leaving his socks around like my husband."
Another time I mentioned how grateful I was for a husband who cares about a clean house and willingly shouldered his share of the housework.
One more experienced married woman replied, "Enjoy it while you can. Trust me, it will start driving you crazy soon enough. My husband cares way more than I do about keeping the house clean, and now he constantly nags me."
Bubble effectively burst.
Sure, I was living in a bit of a fantasyland back in those days, imagining a happy, shiny, problem-free future. It's tempting to do exactly that anytime we're at the start of something new. But reality always rises up to smack us in the face soon enough. We should all let each other enjoy the fantasy while we can.
It sure would have been nice to hear one of these responses instead:
"I can see the joy on your face. It's good to see you so happy."
"Yeah, I remember those days. It's fun to be a newlywed. Things will get both harder and more wonderful from here on out. You have lots to look forward to!"
"Sounds like you're starting out your marriage on the right foot. Stay in the honeymoon phase as long as you can."
Just You Wait, New Mama
When Keira was a tiny, sweet, immobile newborn, and I'd spend hours just holding her and staring at her, people would ask, "So how's life as a new mama?" I'd reply with how much joy she had brought to my life. I'd express surprise that I'm really not as tired as I expected to be, or as overwhelmed. I'd say how shocked I was that I was still managing to keep on top of my business (for the most part), blog occasionally, and even read a book every now and then. I'd say that I didn't really know what was missing in my life until now—that Keira Jane Lucas made me feel complete in a way I hadn't felt for the 7 years I had waited for her.
Now, if you imagine yourself saying in response to any blissful new mother, "Just you wait until you have a teenager, then you'll know what tired is," or "Just you wait until she's crawling. You won't get anything done after that," please hold your tongue. Here are some alternate responses to try:
"I'm so happy for you!"
"I remember when my son was that age. The baby years are so precious."
"You're lucky. My baby never slept when he was little. I hope things continue to go well!"
Just You Wait, Rookie Employee
There are definite disadvantages to being a new employee (not knowing where the break room is, having no grasp of corporate culture and history, being unaware of company processes), but there are advantages, too. New employees can see issues, problems and areas of improvement that more entrenched employees are blind to—and they have a sense of optimism and energy that can be infectious to others.
If you're a long-term employee, it's tempting to fill the newbie's mind with all of your own gripes, injustices and prejudices right away—because you will certainly have some. But why not see if the new employee's fresh perspective can rub off on you, rather than letting your cynicism rub off on her? It's a chance for you to look at your team anew.
If you find yourself wanting to reply to all of her new ideas with a "We already tried that and it didn't work," try the following instead: "I'm interested to hear more about that idea. I'll share a similar idea that we tried last year, and maybe you can help us understand why it failed and what you think we could do differently if we tried it again."
If you feel like warning her away from the difficult personalities in the office on day one, instead let her form her own opinion. If she says, "Mary in accounting sure seems nice," refrain from saying, with a mouth full of sour grapes, "Just wait until you're late with an expense report, then you'll see just now nice she is."
The office ogres will reveal their true colors soon enough. And then you and the new employee can commiserate together. Or maybe she'll forge a personal connection with Mean Mary that can smooth the way for you.
Together We Can Banish Bubble Bursting
We've all been guilty of needlessly raining on another person's parade, haven't we? Whether out of jealousy or personal dissatisfaction or even genuine concern expressed in an unintentionally negative way.
I cannot remember where this came from, or I would pass the credit along, but I've heard that every utterance that passes our lips should meet at least two of the following criteria, if not all three:
Is it TRUE?
Is it NICE?
Is it NECESSARY?
The bubble-bursting scenarios outlined above may be true, but they certainly aren't nice or necessary, so they don't pass the test. If for some reason it becomes necessary to burst a bubble, even if what you're saying isn't particularly nice, then by all means say the thing, as long as it's also true.
There's an adorable video from Dr. Brene Brown (below) that illustrates how disconnecting and isolating it can be when we try to paint a silver lining around someone else's pain. What I'm talking about is the reverse of that—inviting the storm clouds in to cast a shadow on another person's sunny news—but it will also get in the way of those true human connections that we are all starving for, whether we know it or not.
Parades and blissful fantasies are rare and beautiful things in this world, and I believe we should all help each other enjoy the sunshine while we can—and then practice empathy and connection when those inevitable clouds roll in.