Maybe it’s because I spent a lovely week bonding with my kids over spring break.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older every day and less tolerant of junk.
Maybe it’s because I’m so introspective that I’ve noticed changes I need to make (or I’m dreaming?).
Whatever the case…I need to bring up two phrases that I would like outlawed in human speech patterns:
1. “No offense but…..”
2. “I’m sorry but….”
These are the two most passive aggressive ways of negating anything that’s being said known to mankind. In my humble opinion, they are infuriating!
The first phrase is usually one favored by tweens and teens, as well as the small sub-group of adults that handles conflicts like aforementioned tweens and teens. It’s used when a person needs to bring something up that probably WILL cause offense, but the bringer-upper thinks the phrase will somehow magically erase the offended feeling.
Examples of this usage include:
–No offense, but your cooking isn’t my favorite.
–No offense, but I’d rather not share a room/bench/car/life with you.
–No offense, but that’s probably not your strong suit.
–No offense, but I’ve certainly seen better.
While there may be truth behind these statements, the three opening words acknowledge the fact that the “sayer” knows the sentiment will injure the other person and chooses to say them in this format anyway.
I am reading a great book about parenting tweens and teens called “With All Due Respect” by Nina Roesner. It delivers some great strategies for dealing with kids that passively aggressively attempt to show you that they are experts in everything and you’re an old moron. These strategies could also be used with the subset of adults mentioned above.
As a society we’re going to have different opinions and conflict. We have to learn to address and work through them. This might mean bringing up a touchy subject, but doing so in a loving truthful manner….not saying something nasty precluded by “No offense but” as if that excuses the delivery. Yes, as mature people we also need to learn to accept criticism but it’s much easier to do so when the person delivering it isn’t trying to be a jerk.
Now for the second phrase….the “non-apology apology.” Ughh.
This phrase is much more universally used in our population. In fact, it might be seen to be a bit more prevalent in the ages of tweens and up. The youngsters in our world often have a more black and white view of blame and, when forced to accept it, simply own it and move on.
Examples of this usage include:
–I’m sorry I broke your phone, but you left it in a dumb spot.
–I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, but you’re way too sensitive.
–I’m sorry I rear-ended you, but you were going really slow.
–I’m sorry I cancelled on you, but you have to realize that my life is super busy.
The “but” in this phrase basically negates the apology and turns the blame away from the person apologizing. It is my fear that our society is turning into a bunch of blame-shifting individuals with an astonishing ability to find “valid” reasons why our mistakes are never our own faults.
Here’s the deal: If I do something wrong, something that offends or hurts or just messes things up for another person, then whether or not I meant to do it, I need to own it and apologize for it. END. OF. STORY.
If there are other factors or people involved in my mistake, then I’ll leave that to be sorted out by those people or the person I wronged. The only person I can truly control is myself, and that’s the person with whose actions I need to be concerned.
I’m stepping off my soapbox now. I’ve told my charges that apologies followed by a “but” don’t count, and that there is always a move loving way that words can be spoken. I hope those lessons will sink in (for them and myself!) and we can all be productive little members of society.
If I’ve offended anyone with these thoughts, I’m sorry, but you shouldn’t be so sensitive. No offense. 🙂