It’s best to say nothing at all.
I learned about that saying when I first moved to America. Actually, my college sweetheart reminded me of that line on a daily basis. Credit to her, she lived and breathed it.
It took me a while to figure that one out, which in combination with the fact that my expected growth spurt at the age of 21 didn’t quite happen, is probably why we didn’t work out.
But really, it’s a cultural thing.
Let me tell you, that saying or behavior would not catch on in Europe. First of all, most Europeans wouldn’t look at one long enough – much less say something nice.
It took me years to get comfortable with the notion that it’s ok to just ask random people how they’re doing. It took me even longer to figure out that they aren’t looking for an answer and any such thing lead to nothing but confusion and awkwardness.
But being a transplant to this great country, one has to adjust a bit. And after lengthy phone conversation a couple of nights ago, I came to articulate my position on that line.
Here’s my take…
If you don’t have anything nice to say, then it’s best to say nothing at all.
Other than if it’s really funny.
Just don’t be an asshole. And if you are, apologize sincerely, quickly.
It’s really hard to make jokes about people by just saying nice things. As a matter of fact, I would have no clue how to even begin doing that.
Heck, I can’t even make fun of myself that way.
I know I’ve probably offended a lot of people in my lifetime, but in the grand scheme of things, most have forgiven me. Some even thought I was funny. Yes, I know, that soccer coach up in Oregon probably didn’t. Nor did Bill Cosby’s manager…big deal.
In the grand scheme of things, life is too short to be mean. Or to just say nice things. So joke freely and if you hurt someone’s feelings, be sincere in your apology.
If I hurt your feelings, I am sorry.
It’s a cultural thing.