During any conversation if you have to say ‘lighten up’, you’ve usually failed twice.
- The first is when you misjudged an interaction and the other individual reacted in a way you’re not pleased with, and
- The second is when you offer this advice ‘lighten up’, one that is automatically going to cause exactly the opposite reaction you’re expecting.
Adding to this list is “I was joking”, “I was just kidding”, and “I didn’t mean it in that way”, because these are pitiful excuses for a failed interaction.
It’s completely within reason to come to the conclusion that someone else can’t be a worthy audience, conversation partner or otherwise interact with you. You can quietly say to yourself, “this person is a jerk, I’m never going to be able to please him.” But as soon as you toss back advice designed to ‘cure’ the other person, you’ll probably going to get exactly the opposite of what you were hoping for.
P.S. The word “oh” is so neutral, it’s a helpful while you wait for things to die down.