Survey Reveals 87% Admit to Using Regrettable Language Under Stress

When looking at generational differences, Gen X leads the pack in stepping back from negative individuals at 93%, followed by Gen Z at 90%, boomers at 86%, and millennials at 85%. However, Gen Z experiences the highest stress from negative social interactions at 83%, surpassing Gen X (81%), millennials (76%), and boomers (74%).

Engaging in online language learning equips us with skills to better manage stress in communication and enhances our ability to navigate stress in various aspects of life, from professional to personal realms.

On Oct. 19, 2023, we surveyed 996 Americans on their experiences with stress and its impact on communication. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 76 years old and were 49% female, 49% male, and 2% nonbinary.

On the flip side, two-thirds of people report that stress causes them to speak less or even shut down entirely. It’s a defense mechanism where individuals retreat into silence under pressure.

Those in industrial and manufacturing environments are most prone to gossip, at 49%, followed closely by retail at 47%, and hospitality at 44%.

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The process of learning a new language itself can be a powerful tool for enhancing mindfulness in communication. This is where Preply’s unique approach shines.

Generational differences may also play a role in this dynamic. Boomers (46%) are most likely to perceive their words leading to conflict, followed in close succession by Gen X at 45%, millennials at 44%, and Gen Z at 39%.


Survey Reveals 87% Admit to Using Regrettable Language Under Stress

A look at situational trends and preferred dialogue

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Instead of using these triggering phrases, Preply language expert Sylvia Johnson says, “The key is to approach the situation with empathy, transparency, and a commitment to support. The language you use is critical, so use words that inspire calmness and clarity.

The repercussions of such stress-driven words are significant. More than two-fifths of employees acknowledge that their words, under stress, have sparked misunderstandings or conflicts in the workplace. This phenomenon is slightly more prevalent among men, with 47% admitting their words caused misunderstandings, compared to 41% of women.

The phrase “I have some bad news” is the top trigger for Americans (65%). It’s closely followed by “We need to talk” (63%) and “I expected more from you” (57%).

Stress is an inevitable part of life, shaping and influencing our every decision, emotion, and action, including the way we communicate. It may induce the silent treatment or cause an emotional outburst, both of which can cause future regret.

Published: Monday, January 15, 2024 – 12:03

By improving our communication skills through language learning, we not only strengthen our interpersonal relationships but also enrich our self-relationship, paving the way for a more balanced and fulfilling everyday life.

Survey methodology

• The majority (80%) of Americans say their tone becomes more hurtful when stressed.
• When stress levels rise, 87% confess to using language they later regret.
• “I don’t care” is the No. 1 phrase Americans regret saying at work.
• A notable 76% say stressed communication has hurt their personal relationships.
• “I have some bad news” (65%) is the No. 1 phrase Americans feel triggered by.

Stress warps our words

Published Nov. 23, 2023, on