I challenge each of you to pay attention to the number of times you hear the phrase, “it’s fine”, through the course of a day. And, the next time you hear it, make sure you capture the situation, the story, or the experience that elicited the comment too.
I, for one, started to observe people and their use of this comical little phrase about a month ago and here is why I’ve decided to keep a mental tally of each time I hear these words.
The phrase, when interpreted in the literal sense, means everything or every situation is going to be alright, it will be tolerated and the people in the midst of the “situation” will be just fine, hence…”it’s fine”. Now, when you start paying attention to when this phrase is most often used, you’ll start to have some fun. I was at work the other day and one of my close work colleagues stopped by to chat for a bit and she began telling me a story.
The story had plenty of detail and as I listened, intently (yes…although I’m really good at talking, I too, can be a listener from time to time), I noticed that she used the phrase “it’s fine” 6 times in 15 minutes, so I stopped her mid sentence, and asked if everything was really fine.
She paused for a minute and retorted with a quick, “what do you mean?” and I smiled at the opportunity to pontificate, so off we go. I shared my view that if the story she was telling, involved me, I wouldn’t be “fine” with what she was talking about. My reaction to the situation I was listening to would have elicited more of a “that’s total bullshit” response (that’s just my opinion), but for her…everything was fine. We laughed as she caught my point and I continued my rant with more questions around why do we think so many people, me included, close sentences of stories that really aren’t fine, with…it’s fine? We do it because it is expected that the world will throw curveballs, it is expected that challenging situations will surface in life and it is expected that we will be able to stay calm through these situations…hence- it’s fine.
Now…I’m not going to expect that my little observation will prevent me from using the phrase any more, but I am more curious about why we have to use it. I, too, will respect the challenging situations work might present or the frustrations that accompany navigating through marriages, parenthood, civil service or whatever else you might have rolling in your life, but I am standing firm on this…if something sucks, it is ok to discuss why it sucks (for you) and how you might adjust the “sucking”, so that it becomes a better situation.
Ironically, if we continue to reinforce a behavior with “it’s fine”, we may be subjecting ourselves to continued frustration and the people or circumstances who could be inadvertently inflicting frustration on us wouldn’t ever suspect that we might have an issue with their behavior or request if we always say to them…it’s fine.
My friends…If something doesn’t feel right, share that with the people around you. You never know when a simple push back or requested behavior change might elicit a great conversation and ultimately correct something that is paining you.
And if that doesn’t work, “it’s fine”.