Have you ever noticed that people always say “No offense” either just before or after saying something that would give the other person cause to take offense?
When someone says “no offense,” what they’re really saying is something like this:
“I want to say something rude, disrespectful or offensive, but I have neither the tact to restrain myself, nor the courage to own up to saying something offensive.”
When you do this, you are being both a jerk and a coward.
I’m not saying that you should never offend people. Some times, offending people is the right thing to do. Jesus offended people on a regular basis, because people often need a little shock-n-awe to wake up to their own hypocrisy and self-deception. But own it. If you’re going to be offensive, then be brave as well.
And you know what? If you feel you must preface something with a “no offense,” and that something isn’t constructively disruptive? If you’re just being rude or catty or disrespectful? There’s nothing wrong with exercising a little restraint and keeping your pie hole shut. Truly. You won’t explode if that particular thought doesn’t get expressed out loud.
Language is remarkably fluid and adaptable, but it does have rules. Words have not just meanings; they have consequences. Let’s all agree to not pretend otherwise.
“No offense” is not like calling “shotgun” to get a better seat than the one you’re due. You can’t change the rules governing common courtesy by calling an audible.
Trust me, friends. There are no magic words that can erase the impact and consequences of something you’ve already said, or are about to say. I really wish there were, but wishing doesn’t make it so.
What would happen if you said something that needed to be said, and just let the words have their undiluted impact? Why do you think people feel compelled to soften or discount what they say?