What Grinds Our Gears: Saying “no offence” to soften the blow of an insult

Why adding “no offence” after offending someone is utterly useless

If you have to do damage control after a remark, chances are it may offend someone.  ILLUSTRATION: Carol Yip / The Peak

By: Tiffany Chang, Peak Associate

Lately, I’ve been getting better at taking criticism, especially when it’s constructive. I think this kind of honest feedback helps people grow.

However, criticism can often take a nasty or offensive turn. What drives me up the wall is when someone says “no offence” after mentioning something hurtful to their counterpart.

My question is this: why do people think saying “no offence” mitigates the offensiveness of their insults?

I find it astoundingly contradictory. It’s like trying to soak up a diarrhea accident with one toilet paper square. You know for certain it isn’t enough to clean up your disgusting mess, but you somehow think it’ll make a difference if an attempt is made.

“You suck! No offence.” “Your eyebrows look like they were plucked by a four-year-old with cheap tweezers. No offence.” “The colour of your nail polish makes me want to gouge my eyes out. No offence.”

How do people not see the uselessness of this saying? Without a doubt, it has the opposite effect of “not offending.” You already knew that what you were going to say seemed insulting. Adding snide comments makes it that much worse.

Long story short, trying to soften the blow of your insults will not garner any positive results whatsoever, so please stop.