“No pressure, but”. Isn’t that essentially of the same nature as “no offense, but” in that it only prefaces the intentional imposition of the emotional state known by the speaker to be unwanted by the recipient? I ask because I have a client I am going to dump or not very soon now, so it’s actually a question that’s important to me and not a rhetorical device used to open a rant.
What happened: This client has an ambitious project that I find fun to work on, and it was getting both geeked and pressured about that project that led me into last week’s episode of insomnia which took me out of the action for several days and made me intensely miserable for the duration of it. The client is well aware that I’ve a sleep disorder, and that it was the work stress of this project that invited me into the insomnia. I’ve never suggested to anyone that the client or the project was responsible for it — it’s the disorder that’s responsible for it, clearly. The work stress was just the trigger. Yesterday, this guy who has known for a long time that I’ve got the sleep disorder and have very recently suffered a week-long insomnia opened an email message about the software project as follows:
No pressure, but the pre-release sales commitments are stacking up like cordwood, according to [so-and-so]’s team.
No pressure, but. It seems to me that if there were no desire to impose pressure, those words wouldn’t have been thought, let alone used. No one ever says “no pressure, but the sunset is lovely this evening” or “no pressure, but this task is unimportant so you needn’t bother with it”. Or “no offense, but that color looks great on you”. Not in my experience. To me, those words are always and only pure mindfuck.
The message delivered to my brain by “no pressure but” is this: I am imposing psychological pressure upon you willfully and taking no responsibility for the ill effects I know you will experience because of it, and if you protest I will paint myself as the unfairly maligned innocent and you as the irrational aggressor. I find it dehumanizing, the intentional manipulation of another by openly taking control of his ego. “Do as I tell you or suffer the consequences of challenging my power. Your call.”
Am I being hypersensitive and/or thinking in black and white, or is “no pressure but” never innocent?