“Just saying” is a common phrase you have probably heard someone utter before, usually after they say something offensive, mean spirited, or otherwise negative.

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Adding “just saying” or “I’m just saying” to a thought or sentiment that’s often used following a mean comment or thought, such as “That makes you look fat. Just saying…”

It’s a dismissive phrase and a person uses as an attempt to get out of the consequences of the words they just spoke. When someone disregards how you feel or doesn’t take responsibility for how they speak to you this can be unhealthy.

But learning how to respond to such comments and setting clear boundaries may help you deal with this dismissive phrase.

It’s unclear where the phrase “just saying” comes from. According to some posted discussions, it may originate from literature, television, or movies. Others suggest it may come from comedians or sitcoms.

Regardless of its origins, the meaning behind it seems similar across different sources. The Cambridge Dictionary says that “just saying” is used when you complain or criticize another person in an attempt to make it less offensive.

The takeaway here is that “just saying” is a way to dismiss a person’s feelings and absolve the speaker of any blame for their hurtful words. It “allows” that person to basically say whatever you want without fully owning how their words will affect the person they’re speaking to.

Some examples include:

  • “You really should have studied more and maybe you would have passed. Just saying.”
  • “That dress looks really weird on you. Just saying.”
  • “Maybe you shouldn’t come over after all. Just saying.”
  • “You kind of smell bad. Just saying.”
  • “I wouldn’t do that, just saying.”

It can be similar in sentiment to other expressions, such as “I’m not saying…, but…” or “I’m not a…, but…”. Like “just saying,” these types of statements relieve you of responsibility for what you are about to say such as, “I’m not saying that dress looks bad on you, but it definitely doesn’t look good.”

Possible benign uses

While people may add on “just saying” as a way to dismiss your feelings or relieve themselves of responsibility for what they say, it’s possible it can be used in a benign fashion.

It could be a way to tell others not to read too much into what it is you are about to say or take it at face value.

Examples may include:

  • “I’m just saying it may not be a good idea to go tonight.”
  • “I’m just saying you might want to think it over before you call them back.”
  • “I’m just saying there’s more to the situation than what you know.”

The common theme in more benign uses is that the speaker is not trying to put you or another person down. They’re also not saying mean or otherwise negative comments to you. They’re trying to express what they’re thinking without malice or ill intent.

Was this helpful?

Saying “just saying” can dismiss your feelings and deflect blame from the speaker. Confrontation can be difficult, but responding with something to the effect of “it’s all good” probably won’t make you feel any better.

It may help you to be open and honest about how you are feeling in the moment. You can focus on how it made you feel, which can help prevent the person from becoming defensive. You may then be able to have a better discussion about what they just said.

Some responses to “just saying” and similar type comments may include:

  • Silence: Rather than dignifying them with a response, remain silent. It may help to reinforce the point that they said something mean or hurtful.
  • Question what they just said: Asking for clarification of their statement may help them to better understand the implications of what they just said and may help them acknowledge what they said was offensive even if they didn’t intend it to be.

No matter how you respond, keep in mind that both setting boundaries and autonomy (ability to act on your own thoughts and feelings) play an important part in your mental health. Standing up for yourself and confronting a person who says mean spirited things may help with this.

A healthy friendship or relationship should be able to handle it if you stand up for your feelings.

In the worst case scenario, it may be best to drop the person from your life or limit your contact with them.

“I’m just saying” is a phrase a person uses in an attempt to avoid apologizing or taking responsibility when they say something offensive. A person may intentionally or unintentionally say something mean and then dismiss your reaction by adding “just saying.”

You can confront the person by telling them how their statement made you feel, questioning what they just said, or remaining silent. These reactions may help the person realize that, “just saying” added or not, what they just said was not kind and you won’t accept it.