Why do we tell people; it’s the least I can do.
I hope you appreciate the minimum but it might upset other people if I offered nothing.

Why do we tell people; it’s the least I can do.

Following directly on the heels of the previous post here, which inspired me to comment on another statement English people frequently make without fully thinking about the consequences of that comment. 

Every time I hear someone say it’s the least I can do I stopped and I re-listen to what they had said previous to that replaying in my brain. Is it though? Is it the least you could have done? Why do you think that is something that anyone wants to hear? 

The statement that it is the least you could do implies that if there was something you could do that was less, you would have chosen that option. It means that whoever you’re talking to is so insignificant to you but you actually put effort into thinking up away not to help or respond. 

It would be the equivalent of saying to someone here is your gift. I know I couldn’t arrive without giving you something and then emphasizing something as if your preference would have been nothing. The least I can possibly do is smile and say hello. It’s telling the person the only reason you’re doing this because of how it will look to others in a social environment. It’s telling them you felt obligated for your response. 

However it’s also wrong since clearly doing nothing would be less and ironically not be offensive to the person you’re saying it to. Feeling the need to tell someone you couldn’t do less for them, seems quite hurtful to me. It’s like you want to get extra value out of your insult. Not only am I doing the absolute minimum for you, but I’m telling you through your face that this is the case. 

It’s 8:39 a.m. and I have to go start my chores. It’s too bad that my day started out with two negative logs back to back. Hopefully the cows will make me smile. 






Care to comment?


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.