• A@W Autistic Reporter

"No offense, but..." is an impolite phrase.

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

If you catch yourself saying this a lot, you may need to work on your communication skills.

"No offense but" is an English colloquialism often use by young people to notify the person to whom they are speaking that their next sentence will contain a strong disagreement or criticism.

Such situations like:

  • Being at school with friends, you say: "No offense but you suck at science"

  • Having just met someone's sister, you say: "No offense but your family is annoying"

  • Meeting an ethnic person, you say: "No offense but is your whole family in prison?"

  • Seeing your co-worker, you say: "No offense but your shirt is disgusting"

  • Listening to a person sing, you say: "No offense but you need more practice"

  • Hearing someone is pregnant, you say: "No offense but having children is a drain on society; why are you having kids?"

  • Seeing an obese person, you say: "No offense but being fat is bad for your health"

  • Being in a meeting, you say: "No offense but that idea is stupid and won't work"

When you precede a sentence with "no offense but", what happens is you offend...

It can be easy to fall into this pattern: To share your unedited opinion in it's full aggressive glory, and convince yourself that you were being a good communicator because you forewarned the person to whom you said it with a simple, "no offense but".

Although your opinion is valid and sharing an opinion can be a way to connect with people, when you precede a sentence with "no offense but", what happens is you offend.

Being a good communicator means that you take a moment to think about HOW you speak to others and how you listen to what they say.

If you want to connect with others and feel a sense of belonging in a group, do away with the "no offense but" phrase. It is archaic, offensive and creates a passive-aggressive platform between people.

Autism and communication challenges

Being an autistic person, you may find you struggle with social communication. It is possible you have picked up this phrase, "no offense but" because you have heard others say it.

Indeed, your autism presents a challenge for communication at the best of times, and you may fumble your words or say the wrong thing, or be a bit too blunt at times -- and that can be so frustrating when you are trying to connect with people.

Should you be in this situation - i.e. having "no offense but" as part of your vocabulary because you heard other people use it, take note: YOU NEED TO STOP USING THE PHRASE.

If Someone Says "No Offense But" to you, here's how to cope:

As you may have experienced, having someone say this to you results in them expressing some of the most aggressive, foul and unkind words. Regardless of the person's neurotype, it can be really hurtful to hear (or read) such comments about you. Some ways to cope are to be mindful that:

  1. The person speaking to you is probably less well-versed in good communication. They are not knowledgeable in how to give mature criticism.

  2. The person speaking to you is likely quite insecure about their world and holds anxiety about life experiences - this colours their perception of you.

  3. The person speaking to you may lack confidence in who they are, so they cannot easily share their authentic opinions. As such, they want to make sure you won't be upset with them when they share of themselves (and "no offense but" is their way to ensure you don't get angry or offended!)

Try to forgive their youth, or lack of knowledge about communication. If you can, try to approach the topic with them (in a calmer moment) and share how their use of this phrase can better be eliminated from their vocabulary.

If You are someone who uses "No Offense But", here's how to stop:

Okay, so you have just read that your words hurt others, and you have also read that you are seen as immature, lacking in knowledge and confidence, insecure in your world and that you don't really know who you are. We understand-- that's probably shit to read. However, you can grow and change and stop being this scared little person. Some ways to re-think your "no offense but" language are to:

  • RETHINK: Take some time to think whether you really need to say this point. For example, if you saw a co-worker and hated their shirt, do you need to tell them you hate it? Is it an essential part of your life and your job to share that you hate their shirt?

What if they asked you what you thought about their new shirt - would you still say:

"no offense but, I hate your shirt"? RETHINK the importance of sharing your opinion at

this time. Ask yourself: 'what good will me sharing my opinion do to this person?' -- if you

at all consider even for a moment that sharing your opinion might hurt them, upset them

or offend them, perhaps don't say anything at all.

  • REPHRASE: If you really feel you need to share your opinion, try rephrasing it. For example, if you saw a co-worker and hated their shirt, but they asked your thoughts, could you maybe say something like, "I wouldn't wear that colour, but I'm glad it makes you feel so good wearing it".

See, in this example, you still get to say you hate the shirt, but instead of sounding

like you hate your co-worker, you explain what what you personally don't like about the

shirt (that you wouldn't wear that colour), and you show support for their love of the shirt

(saying you are glad it makes them feel good). In this way, you have REPHRASED your

opinion and softened it. This allows an authentic expression, but it has not caused harm

to anyone.

  • REFRAIN: Just don't use the phrase, "no offense but". It can be really hard to stop using a phrase you are so accustomed to squishing into your vocabulary, but try to refrain from use the words. Understand that saying these words creates rifts between you and the world, and not everyone will be forgiving or willing to allow you your immaturity about language and communication. REFRAIN using these words so you can build relationships (instead of destroy them) and solve problems (instead of create them).

Communication has the power for good or for evil...

When you speak to someone, you have the opportunity to connect with them, inspire them, show care for them, and to become closer. You also have the opportunity to push someone away from you, hurt them, vilify them or create anger in them. It is your choice how you use your words. As such, communication has the power for good or for evil.

Of course, you do not need to have exactly the same opinions as someone else in order to be friends or to connect with them, but it is important to understand that the way you speak to other people can impact the way they treat you and view you.

Try to remember your words have power. Think about whether you are trying to connect and build a closer relationship with this person, or whether you are trying to hurt and destroy the relationship. If you want to connect, remember be mindful to rethink, rephrase, refrain.

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