The “I Hope You…” Blow Off

ManWallBlowOff“I hope you get it.”

“I hope you make it.”

“I hope you are well.”

“I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

What do these phrases really mean? They may or may not be genuine. Even when they are they often (not always) represent disengagement. Spoken to make the speaker feel better. But the tranquilizing effect they have on the speaker is usually not at all transmitted to the hearer.

Because hope isn’t a strategy. Doing something to help is engagement. Heck, just being legitimately engaged is something, even if you can’t actually do much to help.

The speaker may actually care about the hearer (or maybe not). Nevertheless these words are code for, “I’m not going to do anything tangible to help, so you’re on your own, but good luck.” In fairness this is usually because the speaker perceives there isn’t actually anything that can be done. It’s forgivable, even if they are wrong. But sometimes the speaker is choosing to disengage. She doesn’t want to be burdened by it. These words alleviate that bourdon in a manner that’s polite and allows the speaker to feel better about it.

It’s that simple. So we may as well call it what it is: a blow off. The antithesis of loyalty.

Some close cousins to the above phrases:

“I hope everything turns out okay.”

“I hope to be there.”


7 Responses to “The “I Hope You…” Blow Off”

  1. 1 babicka July 3, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    I’m not sure I totally agree with you. In some cases, I think those phrases can be supportive while recognizing that, ultimately, the success or failure resides with the person being addressed. I can hope that someone might become more physically fit, quit smoking, stop drinking, etc. but the person must want and need to reach that goal. And, in some cases, when the talk has been cheap over a period of time, it does become a “blow off” of sorts. I might still want that goal for the other person but I recognize that it is time for the person to take the first step. Then, I can be more fully engaged with supporting that individual. If I don’t distance myself from this person and the ongoing non-goal activity, then, I invite stress for myself.

    • 2 David Stewart July 5, 2015 at 9:48 am

      I don’t disagree with any of that. All writing has a bias to it. Mine was to point out what is often (not always) hidden underneath these words that get thrown around a bit frivolously at times. It’s uncomfortable to think in those terms as I outlined them. On purpose. I think often these phrases are used with the intent to be genuinely supportive, and the speaker may (as pointed out) really care about the hearer. But…does a mom just hope her kid cleans up his room, or looks both ways before crossing the street, or gets into a good school? It’s all relative, of course.

  1. 1 No Rescue | Just a job to do Trackback on March 20, 2016 at 11:45 am
  2. 2 Toy | Just a job to do Trackback on September 3, 2016 at 6:32 am
  3. 3 “You Have to be Pleasant” | Just a job to do Trackback on October 16, 2016 at 7:01 pm
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  5. 5 Out of Time | Just a job to do Trackback on April 2, 2017 at 1:06 pm

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