I. Hope. You. Don’t. Mind.
At best, the phrase is used to soften the blow of potentially unpopular news. At worst, you’re using it when you know you’re being a mega bitch in a half-assed attempt to acknowledge somebody else’s feelings, before cracking on nonetheless.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve eaten the last biscuit.”
“I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve adjusted your targets for this quarter.”
“I hope you don’t mind, but I matched with that guy you dated last year.”
And if they do mind? Well, it really doesn’t matter, because you (and Elton John) have given them zero outs.
Author and journalist Poorna Bell recently pointed out the “irritating Britishism” on Twitter, so should we all make like her and try to drop the habit?
It probably depends on your motivation for employing this much-used idiom. Like its little sister, “no worries if not”, the linguistic tic can be an indicator of good intentions.
Counselling psychologist Dr Chloe Paidoussis-Mitchell previously told HuffPost UK there are many reasons why we hedge our bets in language.
“Sometimes [it’s] to ensure we give people an opt out, to avoid feeling like we are making unwelcome demands, and out of worry that our needs may be a burden on those we make requests of,” she explained.
Many have hypothesised that women use these qualifiers in the workplace more than men because we’ve been conditioned to avoid being ‘mean’ or ‘bossy’ – a potential challenge when you also need to be assertive and stand in your authority.
But is this such a bad thing?
The study concluded that: “Women’s greater likelihood of tentative language reflects interpersonal sensitivity rather than a lack of assertiveness.”
That said, if you’re using “I hope you don’t mind” in an attempt to caveat some shitty behaviour (See also: “It’s not my place to say, but...”) you should definitely have a word with yourself.