I feel that I am a pretty good judge of character. I know what will be offensive to someone based on their reactions and the way they talk. And if I know it, I always take into account someone’s history before speaking. For instance, I’m not going to tell you that eating meat is stupid if I know that you grew up on a farm. Or, I’m not going to tell you that you are a negative jerk if I know that you dislike negative jerks.
And, I don’t normally purposefully try to offend anyone. That’s not to say I haven’t done it when someone has really pissed me off, but I’m working on NOT doing it during the good times or bad.
But I also know that there are many people out there who constantly stick their foot in their mouths and offend someone without the intention of doing so.
By taking into account someone’s history, beliefs, likes, dislikes, and morals before you speak, you can avoid offending them.
Or, if you are having a bad day, you can use that information to easily offend someone. I highly suggest not doing that!
But, You Can Still Accidentally Offend Someone…
The problem is that despite your best efforts, you can still potentially offend someone accidentally.
You will never know their entire history. For instance, they may have been sarcastically called ‘incredible’ by their mother repeatedly. So, you may call them ‘incredible’ in the good sense of the word, but if they still associate that word with their sarcastic mother, you may accidentally offend them.
To take it even further, different cultures find different things offensive. And, considering that we live in a multicultural world, it can be hard to always understand what offends other cultures and be thoughtful about that stuff.
For instance, when I was learning American Sign Language, it turns out that some signs in different cultures are actually offensive to hearing people. For instance, the following sign in Japanese means ‘big brother’.
Get what I’m trying to say? If a deaf Japanese person came to town and did that sign to some hearing person, then the chances are high they would offend that person. And, maybe even get themselves in trouble with that person.
Following is a video made by the Good Mythical Morning guys that you may find interesting so that you know how not to offend someone in another country – or at least the countries they are talking about.
Criticism: The One Thing That Offends Almost Everyone
Want to offend someone? Criticize them. Tell them their clothes are stupid or their haircut is unattractive or their house is slightly too small.
You don’t even have to be that bold and tell them! You can just make a face at their new clothes or haircut or house, and you will offend them. It is that simple.
When you criticize someone, you may be trying to improve them, but you are really telling them (or they are hearing) that they are not good enough. Moreover, you are calling them out on issues that they may be sensitive about, such as their looks, their morals, or their beliefs.
Of course, sometimes criticism will not offend someone. If they don’t care about your opinion, then they may just let your comment slide off their shoulder. In fact, there are many people who just don’t seem to care about what others think. But, there are many other people who will be offended by your criticism.
How To Criticize Without Being Too Offensive To Someone
The problem is that criticism is often needed at work, at home, and even in the local supermarket. So, if you don’t want to offend people, you have to learn how to criticize in a constructive way, not a rude way.
- You may need to tell your employees that they are not doing their job right so that they can do their job better.
- You may need to tell your spouse that you don’t like their cooking so that you don’t have to force down their food.
- You may need to tell the employee that she was treating her customer in a very rude way and will not get any business doing that.
When I was in college, one of the biggest lessons I learned was about constructive criticism. I don’t know why it stuck in my head. I guess because I have always been conscious about how my words affect other people, and this was a way to get my point across without offending someone.
I found the following video that explains, first of all, whether or not you should criticize, and then how to do it if you need to.
I think she gave some really good advice for this. Sometimes it is better not to say anything if there is not a solution, but there is always a nice way to hide your complaint or criticism and turn it into something good so that you don’t offend someone.