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35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say

All content is contributed to Dr. Maura Cullen's book "35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say: Surprising things we say that widen the diversity gap."
by

Jenn Kube

on 6 August 2014

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Transcript of 35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say

Statement
Referring to older
people as "cute"
Intent
Referring to older people as "cute"
is meant as a compliment and a
form of flattery.
Impact
Both the tone and the use of this word are condescending. We sometimes talk to older people the same way we talk to little children. This belittles them and at times can be very humiliating.
Statement
You are so
articulate!
This is meant as a compliment and a testament to someone's verbal skills. People are genuinely surprised when others take offense to this remark.
Intent
This comment is usually directed towards someone who defies negative stereotypes. People may be offended because it is as if you were surprised to learn that this person is both intelligent and competent. This can be both condescending and belittling.
Impact
Statement
I know exactly how
you feel!
This comment is used to find common ground and to demonstrate your empathy and compassion towards another person. It is meant to lessen the person's pain and to help "normalize" their experience.
Intention
This will normally shut the person down for one very simple reason: you cannot know exactly how someone else feels. Perhaps you have had a similar experience, but right then the conversation is not you about -- it's about them.
Impact
Statement
Statement
People just need to pick themselves up by their bootstraps.
Statement
I don't see difference. We're all part of the same race, the human race.
Statement
Statement
It was only a joke! Don't take things so seriously!
Statement
When I've said the same thing to other people like you, they don't mind.
Statement
That's so gay/queer.
or
That's so retarded.
Statement
Referring to older
people as "cute"
35 Dumb Things
Well-Intended
People Say
Surprising
say that
diversity
things we
widen the
gap!
Ground Rules
1. Be respectful

2. Don’t disregard anyone’s feelings

3. Speak for yourself based on your experience and
knowledge and don’t try to speak for a group.

4. If you feel offended or hurt by something
that is said, say so and say why.

5. It’s okay to disagree – we all have different opinions.

6. Don’t use the names of others if you’re talking about
someone who is not in the discussion.

7. Remember that this class is considered a safe zone,
What is said here stays here.
L
e
t
'
s
G
e
t
S
t
a
r
t
e
d
!
Impact
Saying to LGBT people, "What you do in the privacy of your own bedroom is your business".
Intention
People try to convey that people's sexual orientation is none of their business and they can live their lives as they see fit.

Impact
LGBT people are stereotyped as overly sexual in nature. When people make this statement, there is little acknowledgment of the quality and depth of the relationships that exit outside of the confines of the bedroom.
Intention
People making this statement are suggesting that if people do not like their lot in life,then they need to work harder to change it.
Impact
This statement lacks the acknowledgment that some people have been given an advantage simply by their social identity, and some people have to work twice as hard to achieve the same level of success.
Intention
This statement reinforces the idea that the person making this comment treats all people the same and does not discriminate.
Impact
Making a comment such as this dismisses and denies the reality of race, privilege and discrimination against people of color.
When people of faith say, "Love the sinner, hate the sin."
Intention
This can be said as an attempt to reach out in a compassionate way to LGBT people while not condoning their action or their "choice".
Impact
Being LGBT and a person of faith are not mutually exclusive. For many LGBT people it is difficult to make sense of the contradiction that religious people are not supposed to judge.
Intention
When people make this statement they are often attempting to lighten up a tense situation by using humor following an inappropriate
remark or joke.
You're making an inappropriate remark which the person finds offensive. Then when the person responds in a serious manner, you end up insulting them again for not laughing at your ignorance, by telling them not to take things so seriously.
Intention
when people make statements like this, it is because they are feeling defensive over a remark we just made that upset someone, and they are attempting to rationalize that is it okay.
Impact
This statement seeks to pit members of the same group against one another, which diverts the attention from the person who has caused the disruption to begin with.
Intention
More and more these statements are viewed as common expressions and people making these statements don't mean any harm.
Impact
Statements like these have found their way into our daily language. There is no recognition that they are hurtful, nor is there an acknowledgment to their historically negative connotation.
Intent
vs.
Impact
Usually, these "dumb things'' are
meant as joining statements, but
often these remarks have the
opposite effect. They can actually create a larger
divide, and at times even anger the other person.
The sooner we are able to understand the impact
of our words or actions have on others, the
sooner we will transform the quality of our
interactions. The worst possible way to react
when we have caused harm is to become defensive
or dismissive. Accepting responsibility for our
mistakes is essential in building
a positive connection.
Full transcript