"No Offense." "None Taken." A *Cherron-osophy on Offense.
*A quick note about Cherron-osophy. My name is Cherron and I have philosophies on all sorts of stuff! Merging my name with philosophy is how "Cherron-osophy" was born!
How many times have you heard the exchange in the title above?
How many times have you participated in that exchange?
I often think about words and phrases, and this one was on repeat for a while in my mind. In particular, the "none taken" part of that phrase.
I invite you into my train of thought. Ready?!
None taken. None taken. Taken. Taken. To take. Well, whose action is it to "take"? It would be mine if I were saying that phrase. So, I would have an action on my part to "TAKE" offense? Then I guess that means I can leave it then, right?
Yep! I can! I can take OR leave offense. I get to choose, and so do you!
I believe offense is EVERYWHERE and it's readily available. Someone could say or do anything at any moment that could offend you. Watch the news or scroll through your social media feed for 2.9 seconds and you're sure to find it. Participate in ONE MORE ZOOM or TEAMS meeting with any difference of opinion and you'll find that offense is yet lurking and ready to pounce!
NEWSFLASH: You do not have to be offended... EVER! Say whaaaaaaaat???!!!
I admit, to NEVER be offended is quite a lofty goal, which means one would have to be very intentional to not be offended. It does indeed require work and a desire to communicate better in every exchange. I'll offer a few suggestions for your consideration.
Take a moment, don't take offense.
Stop and breathe at the moment that offense is in the air. Determine the best time and location to discuss your concern (preferably no audience and not when your emotions are high).
Tap into your EQ. Ask yourself WHY you are offended by the stimulus. Do you know your own triggers? Is your irritation really about this moment or something/someone else?
Ask questions to clarify what the other person meant by the actions, statements, or words used (and not with a negative, snappy, or condescending tone and attitude). Be curious and "seek first to understand". You may want to give it a think before charging into a conversation. Consider rehearsing your thoughts and potential responses.
Use "I" language instead of "you" language. "I" = ownership of feelings and thoughts. "You" = accusation and creates an opportunity for negative conflict and defensiveness from the other party. (ex: "I need help understanding what you meant by..."instead of, "You need to explain what you meant by that".) Think ahead and write down a few things you may want to say.
Use active listening and paraphrase. Then clarify your own statements and actions if needed.
Use assertive communication (avoid being aggressive or passive). Speak up and don't allow offenses to stack up; you don't want to implode or explode!
Be open to the feedback and learning about yourself and the other(s) involved. A good discussion will help all parties know how to navigate the relationship in the future.
You've got a couple of options when communicating: 1. you can react or 2. you can respond. "Reaction" may lead to frequent cases of "foot-in-mouth" syndrome, and could also damage relationships (personal and professional). "Response" offers you a better chance to grow as a person, truly understand, and successfully manage relationships.
It may be a hard pill to swallow and it may be an unpopular opinion, but you (and I) CHOOSE to take offense, although unintentionally. We assign meaning and value to situations and decide if we will continue thinking about it or being bothered by it. I say that because another person could experience the same stimulus and walk away unbothered. Granted, words and situations are part of a chemistry experiment that interact with each of our experiences differently. We the people get to influence and determine the reaction and outcomes of said experiments.
So don't take offense, take a moment. Choose to take a moment that changes the trajectory of the interaction. Choose to take back your power; you've actually had it all along.