How to quit my Homer Simpson related habit?
January 30, 2011 7:48 AM   Subscribe

How do I stop saying, "D'oh" when I do something wrong?

For a while back in 1991 or 1992 it was considered funny say "d'oh!" like Homer Simpson when you did something wrong. The rest of the world stopped d'ohing after a year or so but I did not. It has not been a major problem until now. My new boss thinks it is "really fucking annoying" and "childish." I want to quit but I don't know how. Help!
posted by Gringos Without Borders to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Whenever I have a bad habit like this (right now, I'm fighting the tendency to just blurt out a joking "no" when my wife asks me something), I tend to use the rubber band technique.

Rubber band around the wrist - snap it hard whenever you do this. After a while, it tends to cure me of small ills like this.
posted by SNWidget at 7:50 AM on January 30, 2011 [6 favorites]

Start to use "anti-copasetice" as a catch phrase, so obfuscatory archaic you'll be cool again.
posted by sammyo at 7:52 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Perhaps train in another word that's cool now. It is much more difficult to unlearn the habit as such than to work with substitutes.

[We have that idiotic inside thing going on here at home where we make fake adverbs out of everything: "this cup of tea is really quite nicely," etc. Try breaking that habit during, say, a job interview...]
posted by Namlit at 7:57 AM on January 30, 2011

Honestly, I think you boss is the one who's being childish. Would it be better if you "adulted" it up a bit and started saying, oh, I don't know, motherfucker every time you do something wrong?

If he'd rather you keep it to zero outbursts for the purpose of office decorum, that's one thing. But my guess is that someone who has deemed your behavior "really fucking annoying" doesn't really care much about that. If someone told me to stop saying dang it (which I grew up conditioned to say in public) because it annoyed them, I would laugh in his face. Even if he was my boss.

But if you, personally, deep down inside, feel the need to stop saying d'oh, the rubber band habit-breaking technique is a good one.
posted by phunniemee at 8:05 AM on January 30, 2011 [12 favorites]

It's changing a habit, so you can use awareness methods that work for changing other habits. One I've used with a bit of success is to catch yourself doing the thing you want to quit, and then mentally run through the steps in the acronym STOP: Stop - whatever you're doing, stop yourself as soon as you take notice; Think - remember why you don't want to do this any more; Observe- note that despite the fact that you don't want to do this anymore, you did it again, reflect on whatever triggering event started you doing it; and Plan - think about the next time this might happen and plan to do or say something different when the trigger arises again.
posted by Miko at 8:11 AM on January 30, 2011 [7 favorites]

Have you tried the money jar, where every time you break a rule you put a dollar in the jar, and the funds go to something that you have no control over (your least favorite political group, the pocket of whoever "caught you," etc.)? Some people find it highly motivating, though I admit I've gotten a few free dinners from a guy who wanted to stop swearing and he still swears.
posted by SMPA at 8:11 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

My new boss thinks it is "really fucking annoying" and "childish."

Tell your new boss you don't appreciate his language and that if he's going to talk to you he can do it without the adolescent, unprofessional profanity.

People get fired for profanity. They don't get fired for D'oh!

Remind the motherfucker of this.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:19 AM on January 30, 2011 [22 favorites]

People get fired for profanity. They don't get fired for D'oh!

I don't know the OP's job, but there are plenty of jobs where this would be a legitimate performance issue. In many positions where an employee represents the organization and becomes its public face, verbal expression is an important component of professionalism. I've had to talk with some employees about presentation skills and slanginess. This could be an appropriate concern, though it's hard to tell without knowing the job criteria the boss is managing for.
posted by Miko at 8:23 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your boss is oversensitive. D'oh away.
posted by tehloki at 8:28 AM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Marry a Chinese woman and convert to saying Ai Ya!
posted by fairmettle at 8:31 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here's my previous answer on how to train verbal ticks out of your speech habits.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:40 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

May I suggest "Oh Bother!". This always brings a smile to my face.
posted by saradarlin at 9:51 AM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

Perhaps train in another word that's cool now.

This sounds like a crappy present to send your future self.
posted by thejoshu at 9:51 AM on January 30, 2011 [7 favorites]

I use "bother!" which expresses annoyance but also communicates that it's nothing major that requires the other person's attention.

Also "foo!", like the first syllable of "phooey!" Conveys mild annoyance while remaining inoffensive to the most delicate-eared.
posted by Lexica at 9:59 AM on January 30, 2011

Honestly, you are majorly over thinking this. Just start saying something else. Or say NOTHING.

You don't need an exclamation when something goes wrong. Either there is something semi-meaninful to say ('how did that happen?' or 'i didn't expect that' or 'oops, sorry!', all of which actually communicate something), or there isn't. If there's nothing that needs to be said, don't say anything. You do not need a relacement for 'd'oh'. As for saying 'd'oh', just stop saying it. Be concious of the words that come out of your mouth, rather than behaving as if the words you speak are out of your control. If you slip up and say it occasionally, people will be much more willing to forgive it than they are willing to forgive hearing it on a daily basis.

The reality is that while your boss may be the first person to tell you they think that saying d'oh is stupid, trust me that for years other people have been thinking it.
posted by Kololo at 10:23 AM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

I just want to echo Kololo (yes, others have likely noticed it and thought less of you for it) and Miko (yes, this really can be a big deal in the workplace. Further, what MeFi thinks of your boss for communicating with you about the problem is fairly irrelevant. Your boss has asked you to stop. Period.).

And to say that jacquilynne's advice from the other thread is spot-on. I used "you know" as my crutch filller phrase for ever, and I went through the steps of becoming aware of the previously unconscious usage, catching myself before I finished it, and then not using the phrase at all. It's like untraining yourself from any other bad habit. An exclamation (whether D'oh! or otherwise) when you do something wrong isn't necessary, so just cut it completely like a diseased vestigial organ.
posted by pineapple at 11:08 AM on January 30, 2011

I'd be inclined to think (not knowing your boss or your job) that the "really fucking annoying" part wasn't the word itself, it was the way you trivialized his concern with a jokey phrase instead of appearing to take it very seriously when you do something wrong. (Which, we all do from time to time, don't get me wrong)

It depends what you do, of course. If he's telling you about how you left the copier set on 25,000 copies and the next person forgot to check, that's a "d'oh!" If he tells you you left a radioactive source out when you left and the (unqualified, unbadged) cleaning person brought it to him, or that the bus driver dropped off some Secret material you left on the bus, that's not a "d'oh!" situation. Obviously, there's a whole continuum in between.

I'd suggest just taking all your boss's criticisms with the same seriousness as, "hey, someone could have really gotten hurt or killed because of you." Even when it's not true, it'll make you look like you take things seriously.
posted by ctmf at 2:21 PM on January 30, 2011

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