Full Disclosure

Perhaps it all began with the poor sweet lady who didn’t understand that her McDonald’s coffee might be a teensy bit warm, but we officially live in a world full of disclaimers. From the “assembly required” label on the side of a 1000-piece puzzle to the extremely helpful “remove cap” warning on a can of Easy Cheese, to the five-page side effect inserts in my Shape magazine, the world refuses to steer us wrong. And so it follows that our friends and family have adopted the same policy – when in doubt, lead with a disclaimer.

We use these lofty intros to build intrigue and momentum to what we believe is an amazing revelation. We say things like “So to be totally honest,” in a hushed tone to ensure we have your full attention and that you’re poised and ready for the killer sentence we have in store for you. While more often than not, the resulting words are anticlimactic at best, we can’t seem to let go of our urge to preface. Here are a few that have become as ingrained in our daily interactions as awkward weather chit-chat:

Honestly/frankly/truthfully: I’m not really sure I even believe what I’m about to tell you, but it would really help me out if you did.

I have to tell you something: Cue the theme song to Days of Our Lives – it’s about to get serious in here. This is where I expect to hear something awful like you’re running away to Bora Bora with my dad’s evil twin, but instead you just tell me you spilled Bloody Mary mix on my favorite sweater.

I don’t mean to be rude, but: If my new hairstyle reminds you of Sally Struthers circa 1986 or my homemade lasagna tastes like it came out of a Lean Cuisine box, just tell me.

We need to talk: This is the verbal equivalent of having a meeting about a meeting.

I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but: We already knew you were listening, just chime on in!

So while I probably shouldn’t tell you this, from my perspective, whether it’s a long-winded intro that has us gasping for air or the brief and seemingly innocuous “to tell you the truth,” disclaimers leave your audience internally screaming for you to get to the point. Put them out of their misery, honestly.


About WhiteElephantInTheRoom

I'm an 80s music lover, traveling junkie, mac & cheese connoisseur, amateur wine snob, party-planning priestess and Chicago transplant living in Southern California. I find adventure in the everyday and have a unending compulsion to write about it. Hope you enjoy reading my mind!
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13 Responses to Full Disclosure

  1. LOL I totally know what you mean. I’ve actually used phrases like, “Wake me up when you get to the point”, “Any day now Princess Preamble”, or the always popular hand gestures for hurry up.

    And yes, the actual content of the message is usually pretty lame, the preamble is like scrolling through pages and pages of “Forwarded to:” email headers, only to find at the bottom (before the antivirus and corporate/government secret disclosures start) that its one of those stupid chain letters or a mushy/mystical BS ranting with a somewhat nice picture that may or may not be there anymore.

    I say get to the point already, and quit insulting most peoples intelligence 🙂

  2. Nick says:

    I couldn’t agree more, though I am so guilty of starting 89% of my conversations with “Can we just talk about…”

  3. paywindow7 says:

    Then there’s this one that I seem to be hearing more and more (drum roll here) and it is: “but you know what”? This one can be a liittle more shape shifty becase it can either support whatever self absorbed blather the speaker was slinging around just before or it can competely switch directions on the fly taking all hands to a completely different subject causing screams of frustration from the listener(s) and unfortunately leaving large amounts of broken glass and the sound of approaching sirens.

  4. asharee993 says:

    Freshly pressed as always :). You never fail to put an interesting spin on something I’ve never even conciously noticed!

  5. I am guilty of asking my husband if he is ready for some bad news…this is meant to provide an opportunity for him to request a postponement (in case he is already overwhelmed), but of course, once I have mention bad news the conversation is already a downer! I must find another way to judge the timing.

  6. natasiarose says:

    I say “Honestly” all the time! It’s a horrible habit. Whenever people say any of those phases I always freak out because in my head it means something is horribly wrong…it usually isn’t.

  7. kitchenmudge says:

    I’ve written a little about irritating introductory phrases and other language matters, but this “disclaimer” category is an interesting one that didn’t occur to me. The bad introductions that drive me up the wall are “You know what?” and “Can I ask you a question?”

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