There was a post about how certain words might trigger an emotional response in you. But what about a whole expression?

I find for instance that if somebody starts a sentence with "to be honest,..." it will immidiately raise the question if that is something unusual, i.e. if the rest of what they have said was just bullshit.

Or if somebody states "don't think that I am stupid" I am pretty much forced to consider that possibility, which I wasn't up until that was being said (if I thought he or she was stupid, I wouldn't be talking to them at all).

Then there is of course the classic "don't get upset now, but..." which, like clockwork, is something that will regularely be stated by my employees when they have committed some boo-boo - and, also like clockwork, it means that I WILL get upset, so that statement will always have me focusing on damage control more than the actual story itself.

If you have children, you know that the statement "I didn't do it" really means "I did it" and "it wasn't me" should be interpreted as "it was me". Because of this it is always better to ask "well what happened?" than "well who was it then?" if you want to find out what went down. (In interrogations, you want to delay the confrontation until you have extracted the information.)

There is a lesson of "lesser magic" in there somewhere. Minding your mouth is of course a wise thing. But most people aren't wise like that. They have been trained to behave in a certain way by their upbringing and environment. Paying close attention to what words and expressions people choose to represent themselves with can tell a whole story about their personal history.