There are certain phrases that people use without putting much thought into them. One of them that irks me is the phrase “What gives?”
What taints that expression is that it’s usually found in the same sentence as WTF.
“WTF man, why is this thing still broken? What gives?”
Often when someone says “what gives”, it’s rarely used when something positive is happening. The speaker who says it, is usually pissed off and complaining about something.
Here’s the problem. (By the way, this blog post might be coming out in riddles. You may have to re-read it a couple times to understand my points. There is no easy way of taking a phrase like this, splitting hairs about why it’s wrong, and convincing anyone of the alternative).
Emotion is stirred into the phrase, which means, logical communication has dwindled down to the point someone has to say “What gives”.. it is akin to showing anger. That’s why I hate the phrase “What gives”.
In my opinion “What gives” is a simple way of saying “Why am I experiencing this problem, and who is going to fix it before I get even more upset”.
…so I ask, why do people keep saying it? What gives???
If people were to calm down a little, realize that not every problem in existence is present “just to piss you off”. Sometimes it’s something that can easily be fixed. Or, it simply means, that a solution hasn’t been found yet.
How about instead of asking “What gives”.. ask “Is there anything that I can do to help?”
“What gives?” Shows frustration, and anger, demands a solution, and does very little to help the situation, instead, it only compounds the problem further. Now there is two problems. The first problem which is unsolved which caused someone to demand “What gives”, and now there is a second problem, calming down, and satisfying the person who demands “What gives”.
As someone who has worked with customer service before, I’ve heard the “What gives” phrase one too many times. Usually our response would be “Thank you for reporting the problem, it’s been worked on right now, and will be fixed shortly”
…but at no time is there a way to truly answer “What gives?” ..so why bother asking that question in the first place.
Similarily, if someone asks “WTF?” — again, there is no way to answer that question either.
My recommendation to you, the next time you’re upset, and want to communicate that you’ve noticed a problem. Don’t use “WTF” or “What gives”, because they are both negative connotations that are not constructive or helpful. Just leave them out of your speech. Instead, just report a problem, ask if it has already been reported, and what is being done to correct it.
Maintaining your composure during problematic times, by not stomping your feet, wailing like a child, and using phrases like “WTF” or “What Gives”, will earn you a lot more respect in the long run.
This is the best way I can articulate how I feel about the phrase “What Gives” and how I wish it would disappear from existence. After that, “WTF” can be next.
Enjoy the rest of your day or evening.