I Guess….

Today’s topic: “I guess”  This is a phrase that has driven me nuts for a while now. 

Reason #1:  The passive acquiescence.  Ever asked someone “Would you like to go ice skating in the park today?” or maybe “Would you like to have Thai food for dinner?” and gotten the response “I guess”?  It drives me bonkers.  What is that supposed to mean?  Seems to me that it is a way of agreeing without taking any responsibility in the decision.  That way, if the ice rink is overcrowded or the drunken noodles are undercooked, there is this implicit blame on the other person, the “suggestor” of this bogus idea.  The “I guess”er only sort of agreed, but didn’t lend any legitimate support to the idea.  Well.  Don’t do that.  It sucks.  If you are a culprit of the “I guess”, perhaps you believe you are being easygoing and flexible.  I can tell you, it doesn’t feel that way to the other person.  If you would like a better way to say “I am willing to try whatever, and up for anything,” try responding with a bright, enthusiastic “Sure!” or “Sounds good to me.” 

Reason #2:  The “I hope you do, but implied maybe you won’t.”  THIS use of “I guess” is all too often paired with the phrase “figure it out,” such as “I guess you’ll just have to figure it out.”  Implication:  maybe you’re not going to figure it out.  Maybe you haven’t thought through this life choice.  Older adults love to use this expression, particularly when talking to younger people who are going through some strife.  I believe they mean it to be supportive.  I’ve asked about intentions, and these “I guess”ers want to show they believe in the other person, but those two little words create such doubt!  They are so challenging, and irritating, and make the other person want to say “I worry about this WAY more than you do, so I guess I WILL figure it out.”  If you are this kind of “I guess”er, you would do yourself a huge favor by eliminating that interrogative.  A better way to say that: “I know you’ll figure it out.”  “I’m sure you’ll discover what to do.”  “The right opportunity will come along.” 

Enough said.  I guess.

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