Part of your emotional wisdom portfolio
Sometimes you need to tell someone they are not being smart. But you don’t have to hurt them. It will not even have the desired effect if you do. So, when you feel like saying, “You’re being a moron”, try one of these instead; after you’ve double-checked that it’s not you who’s being foolish, and something really needs a response.
The tone is crucial too. Practise saying these aloud with a gentle smile and no condescension, irritation, or dismissal. Presume the person is not stupid; only that thought or action of theirs is. Feel it to do it. Or vice versa.
1. “Perhaps you want to think about that some more?”
It gives the other person a way out, time to correct themself.
(By the way, interested writers, ‘themself’ is a good alternative for the cumbersome ‘herself or himself’. Pardon if you already use it.)
2. “I am curious how you arrived at this interesting idea. Could you please walk me through it?”
Trying to explain themself often reveals the silliness you are seeing, but the other person isn’t. They can take the credit for self-realisation, ruefully.
3. “Come on, sweetie (or dear, or love), that doesn’t make sense, does it?”
It lets them know you don’t look down upon them. It gives the person a chance to question themselves, by which they may get how they’re wrong.
4. “Only you can save yourself from this thought!”
It is a bit more potent, shifts the perspective to the future while implying your unwillingness to accept the idea. It places the ownership on the other person, giving them pause.
5. “The world is glorious for its richness of views, like this one of yours.”
It is tongue-in-cheek but fundamentally deprecates the idea while accepting that everyone is entitled to their point of view.
Come on, my dear reader, I know you can add to this list. Please send them our way in the comments, and we’ll all have a chuckle and a gentler world.