When I wrote my recent blog entry, I had no idea that it had the potential to offend someone, and I’m sorry that it did. Clearly, my intent in selecting that topic and writing about it as I did was to inform, not to offend, but I inadvertently managed to do so.
I was a little surprised at the reaction to my innocent slip, but I guess I shouldn’t be. Over time, I’ve learned that nearly everything will offend someone. And I’ve seen that even the slightest perceived offense triggers a response that seems several times larger than the offense. Often, the source of the offense really doesn’t even exist – it was something the reader perceived to be there, and I can’t detect it, no matter how hard I look.
Saying this will probably offend someone else, but I’ve noticed that people appear to be offended more easily than ever before, and the degree to which they become offended seems to grow with each passing year. Political correctness arose in part to steer clear of those offenses; sadly, it offends many people, too.
I’ve learned that no matter what one does, complaints are inevitable, and no matter how well-intentioned one’s efforts, someone will be offended. I counsel my clients to focus not on the one to two percent of people who take offense, but on the 98 or 99 percent of people who don’t. When they receive complaints, I recommend that they don’t overreact. Instead, they should tell the complainer they appreciate the feedback, were sorry they were offended, and then promptly forget about it.
Oh, and if that strategy offends you, I’m really sorry.