Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you are going to be rude, disrespectful, or offensive, go ahead and say it.
Of course, one doesn’t actually need permission. At the very least, avoid obfuscation. Because you’re not really fooling anyone.
Remember, attempting to be less offensive is still being offensive. I offer a few examples of doublespeak to illustrate.
“To be honest…”
Translation: This opener might lead one to believe that the speaker is about to bare his or her soul opposed to other conversations when the speaker is not being as honest as one might believe. Causing the listener to wonder if he or she has been lied to in all previous discussions. It also gives the impression that the listener is about to be privy to some confidential information as in “To be honest,” as the listener leans in with anticipation, “I truly believe that you just don’t have an accurate sense of reality.”
“With all due respect…”
Translation: It’s the “all due” that gives it away. When you really respect someone, you speak in a respectful manner. It’s when you actually have little to no respect that you’ll rely on this as in “I don’t respect you in the slightest, but need to throw a bone in your direction before I slam you.”
“You’re very [insert backhanded compliment of your choice], BUT…”
Translation: The more I build you up with a perceived compliment, the harder you’ll fall when I follow up with an insult. As in “you’re a very smart person…but you don’t have the slightest clue what you are doing and now I am going to tell you how to do that for which you were hired.”
“Don’t get me wrong…”
Translation: Serving as a structural buffer, this phrase almost ALWAYS occupies the space between what might be (correctly)perceived as an insult and clause meant to be either neutral or a compliment. As in “Everyone else thinks your haircut is just awful; don’t get me wrong, I think it is very well-suited for your facial structure.”
Yes, Miss Scarlett, tomorrow is another day.