Yesterday, I went to get my second shot of Moderna vaccine at the local Walmart. The pharmacist is very young, probably just out of the pharmacy school. He is very cute and also an immigrant, probably from Middle East somewhere. He explained to me that after getting the shot I need to drink more water and I may feel like having a flu. He also apologized to make me wait since he had to thaw the vaccine for 15 minutes before the administration. I didn’t say anything, except asking him what he himself felt after getting the shot. He replied that he felt his upper arm swollen and he slept a little bit more than usual. Again I didn’t say anything during or after he made his speeches. Since he’s also a non-native speaker, we both felt comfortable that I didn’t respond to what he said–he assumed that I understood him and I assumed that I didn’t have to indicate my understanding by uttering a verbal sound. As you know, many of us come from a culture that admires silence or at least won’t judge silence.
However I know that if he’s a native speaker, he would have felt that my not responding to what he said a little awkward. English speaking people loves verbal responses and don’t feel comfortable when they don’t hear something in return after their speech. So here I am compiling a list of responses the native speakers always give even if they don’t feel they have much to say on the topic.
Responding To Something Positive
“Lucky for you”: This phrase should be used when I heard the pharmacist saying that he didn’t suffer much after getting the vaccine shot. I should have said, “Lucky for you” or “Good for you.”
“Good for you”: Same as above.
“I think that says it”: People use this phrase to show that they agree, but they don’t have much to add.
“Who doesn’t”: This phrase is uttered when you agree with the statement like “I love chocolate”, or “I hate driving.”
“No joke”: If the pharmacist had told me an anecdote of somebody who lost ten pounds after getting the vaccine, it would be appropriate for me to say “no joke” to indicate my surprise.
“No kidding”: same as above.
Responding To Something Negative
“I hate when that happens”: This phrase is used when you agree with the speaker that something this bad should not have happened. Actually I never really hear people say, “I sympathize with you” although it is a most legitimate phrase to use. People always say things to indicate their sympathy but people rarely say, “I sympathize” explicitly. And I don’t know why.
“That’s a bit harsh” and “That’s uncalled for” and “I am hurt”: If you think you are unfairly criticized, you can use these phrases. I’ve never used these phrases myself since growing up under critical and authoritarian parents, I am used to unfair criticism. Communication with such parents are impossible and I never bother myself with a response. However the native speakers can raise the little flag of protest whenever they feel hurt. I think among all the responses, I like this one the best, although I’ve never used it myself.