Have you ever noticed that when someone starts a sentence with the words, “No offense,” you know that whatever they are about to say will be offensive? “No offense,” followed by the word “but” means the next words out of that person’s mouth are going to be critical, unpleasant, or negative. The phrase “No offense” is usually used by someone who knows full well he is about to offend another person but wants to block the offended person from expressing his hurt feelings in the matter. If a person gives an apology up front, he can say something hurtful and get away with it.

“No, offense, but you’d look better if you lost a little weight.”

“No offense, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“No offense, but that outfit doesn’t look good on you.”

“No offense, but I don’t care much for your husband.”

“No offense, but your mother is a real witch.”

“No offense, but that hair color on you looks like a child painted it.”

“No offense, Pastor, but that sermon put me to sleep.”

“No offense, but these biscuits are like hockey pucks.”

How is one supposed to respond to comments like these?

“Gee, thanks for pointing out I’m overweight. I had no idea!”

“I’m so glad I have you to enlighten me concerning my wrong opinion.”

“The saleslady disagrees with you about my outfit.” (Or maybe she just wanted my money.)

“Gosh, maybe I should divorce him!”

“I should have done a better job of choosing my parents.”

“As a matter of fact, my five-year-old granddaughter did my hair.” Follow with a glare.

“Well, if one of us had to sleep through my sermon, it was probably better if it was you rather than me.”

“Maybe you need better dentures.”

There isn’t any adequate way to reply when another person starts a sentence with “No offense,” because, frankly, no matter how they justify it, they have just been insulting, and furthermore, they meant to be insulting. Sometimes the words “No offense” are uttered when a person thinks he or she is telling you something for your own benefit. Trying to soften the sting of their words by pretending their comment is “for your own good” doesn’t cut it, either. My own good is to live without offensive comments. No offense, but softening the words with, “Don’t take this personally,” still falls into the same general category of insulting comments to follow.

When faced with such an encounter, my advice is to plaster a smile on your face and say in a voice dripping with honey and a thick Southern accent, “You’re the stupidest jerk who ever walked the face of this earth, bless your heart,” because as we all know, the only way to get away with insulting someone in the south is not to start out with “No offense,” but to follow up with a smile and, “Bless your heart.”