Author Topic: "No offence, but..."  (Read 6861 times)

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Morticia

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"No offence, but..."
« on: June 18, 2014, 10:06:37 AM »
Not really, but I brace myself the same way when I hear someone utter the words "Do you know who you look like?"

Is there a polite way of shutting this down before they answer the question? In the last few months, two separate people have felt compelled to tell me I look like a celebrity. Sadly, neither celebrity:

- is even close to my age, both being decades older.
- is attractive.
- (I have been assured by others, and my mirror) looks remotely like me.

I think I handled it better the first time; I adopted complete silence. I figured it was the verbal equivalent of passing gas, so I politely ignored it.  The person then asked if I knew who the celebrity was. I affirmed without further comment, hoping the point would be taken.

The second time had been the end of a long, long day, so I could not help but blurt in a hurt tone, "No, I don't!"  I apologize. I should have handled that better. My question is: is there a way to stop this before I need to handle it?
« Last Edit: June 18, 2014, 10:08:12 AM by Morticia »
Now our mom says she's changed her mind about the devil's brood, they may be evil so she thinks, but at least they're never rude...
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auntmeegs

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Re: "No offence, but..."
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2014, 10:09:26 AM »
Well, no, not really, because we have no control over what other people say.  But I think your response of complete silence was perfect.  You could also go with a simple confused look and changing of the subject. 

Eden

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Re: "No offence, but..."
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2014, 10:14:54 AM »
No way to prevent it, but I'd suggest just a simple non-commital acknowledgement and changing of the subject. I think silence or a response that shows you were hurt really isn't fair. The people who say this are not being rude. They're making an observation. Whether you find it a favorable comparison isn't the point, assuming the person isn't a highly polarizing, controversial figure.

jmarvellous

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Re: "No offence, but..."
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2014, 10:19:40 AM »
I think, "No, I don't" is a perfectly fine response!

I guess I don't find it as obnoxious as you do, but I am not sure how you could "stop this before (you) need to handle it" because there usually isn't much of a lead-in to a comment like this.

I think that if it's a stranger, just saying, "Thanks," and turning away is fine (even if you're not actually grateful). If it's a friend, I think you can say, "What? That's like me saying you look like (random celebrity, perhaps of a different gender/race/age, so it's absurd)."

"Morticia, you look just like Morticia Addams today!"
"That's not very nice, or accurate."

"Excuse me, did you know that you look just like Christopher Walken?"
"Excuse me, but my mother said that if I have nothing nice to say, I shouldn't say anything at all."

"Hey lady, you look like Joan Rivers."
"And like Joan Rivers, you should probably keep your opinions to yourself."

"Excuse me, did you know you look like Snooki?"
"Wow, that's a real stretch."  (and walk away)

(Picking random celebrities here, no need to tell me you find them attractive, folks.)
« Last Edit: June 18, 2014, 10:22:33 AM by jmarvellous »

etiquettenut

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Re: "No offence, but..."
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2014, 10:19:47 AM »
I don't think disagreeing with the person like you did in the second example was wrong. The silence of the first answer was perfect though.

I think you should just say your own name when the person asks, "Do you know who you look like?" "Yes. Jane Smith." (If your name is Jane Smith.)

I also see nothing wrong with saying, "Well, I don't agree." Or try humor - "Jeez, couldn't you have picked a more attractive celebrity?! Or, "Gee thanks. There wasn't someone uglier you could have picked?" If you say it with a laugh and a smile it could work.

TootsNYC

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Re: "No offence, but..."
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2014, 10:21:22 AM »
Maybe just repeat, "No offense, but..." and stop right there. As if you're commenting on their choice of words (bcs you are).

If you don't much like the person, you could say, "Why would you tell me something that requires you to start with the phrase "no offense, but..."? Because obviously you think it is an offensive thing to say. Next time, just don't say it, OK?"  Not in anger, but in puzzlement.

I don't have the slightest criticism of your "No, I don't!"

SamiHami

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Re: "No offence, but..."
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2014, 10:22:53 AM »
How about saying something like, "If you think it might offend, perhaps you shouldn't say it."

I remember years ago I worked with a woman who is a dead ringer for Tonya Harding. This was when Harding was all over the news because of the attack on Nancy Kerrigan. I know it annoyed her to no end to be constantly told she looks like someone who was pretty much universally reviled at the time. Yes, it was true, but what's the point in mentioning it?

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etiquettenut

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Re: "No offence, but..."
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2014, 10:26:48 AM »
No way to prevent it, but I'd suggest just a simple non-commital acknowledgement and changing of the subject. I think silence or a response that shows you were hurt really isn't fair. The people who say this are not being rude. They're making an observation. Whether you find it a favorable comparison isn't the point, assuming the person isn't a highly polarizing, controversial figure.

Why? If you really were hurt by it, why is it wrong to let the person know? They might think twice before doing it to the next person.

Just because they didn't intend to be rude doesn't mean they can't be. I would be insulted if someone told me I looked just like James Earl Jones and would let them know.

This is one of those things that I don't really understand why people say it. I've never experienced anyone really being impressed by this, most of the time the subject disagrees anyway, and it seems a little weird. I don't know, like over-friendly or overly-observant in a way. Like, why are you studying me so intensely as to compare me to celebrities?

TootsNYC

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Re: "No offence, but..."
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2014, 10:27:28 AM »
How about saying something like, "If you think it might offend, perhaps you shouldn't say it."

I like this even better. Try to train yourself to only say this.

Never, ever address the substance of the comment. Just address the "no offense, but..." and never, ever say anything but this.

Zizi-K

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Re: "No offence, but..."
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2014, 10:33:41 AM »
This thread reminds me of the time I told someone he looked like Steve Buscemi...it did not go over well. Oh, or the other time I mentioned to a guy that he looked like Philip Seymour Hoffman. I did not and do not consider it an insult. Just because they don't look like Tom Cruise (or whatever conventionally attractive celeb) doesn't mean they don't have something attractive about them. They are celebrities who appeared in numerous productions - they have "juice" or charisma or whatever. I would recommend taking it in the spirit in which it was offered, which is almost always positive.

But if you really view it negatively, as an alternative to just staying silent, which is kind of weird honestly, I would just say something non-committal, like "Oh, wow, interesting. Anyway, so how was work today?... beandip..."

About the "no offence" question - I don't think the OP was saying that people say to her, "No offense, but do you know who you look like?" I think she was making a comparison between people saying "No offense, but" which is something you kind of have to brace yourself for what comes next, and also the question "Do you know who you look like?" which she similarly has to mentally prepare for.

TootsNYC

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Re: "No offence, but..."
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2014, 10:36:23 AM »
This thread reminds me of the time I told someone he looked like Steve Buscemi...it did not go over well. Oh, or the other time I mentioned to a guy that he looked like Philip Seymour Hoffman. I did not and do not consider it an insult. Just because they don't look like Tom Cruise (or whatever conventionally attractive celeb) doesn't mean they don't have something attractive about them. They are celebrities who appeared in numerous productions - they have "juice" or charisma or whatever. I would recommend taking it in the spirit in which it was offered, which is almost always positive.


I would recommend not making these sorts of comparisons. Honestly, what's the benefit?

I actually don't think it's much of a compliment to look at -anyone- and tell them they look like someone else, no matter how lovely that person is.

Zizi-K

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Re: "No offence, but..."
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2014, 10:41:04 AM »
I don't know, idle conversation? Anyway, it was a long time ago and it's no longer something I bring up. There are so many other options for idle conversation out there.

Mergatroyd

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Re: "No offence, but..."
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2014, 10:43:10 AM »
I feel your pain, OP.

When I was 13 someone told me I looked like a young Barbara Streisand. I responded by bursting into tears.

Now they tell me I look like someone else.  ::)

TurtleDove

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Re: "No offence, but..."
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2014, 10:45:14 AM »
Is there a polite way of shutting this down before they answer the question?

I think the best approach is to be cheerful and breezy.  As other posters suggested, you could say, "I think I look like me!" with a big smile and then change the topic.  I don't think it does any good to respond aggressively or negatively - it would be atypical for someone saying something like this to mean harm to you.  And responding aggressively or negatively certainly harms your positive energy!  I would just breezily change the topic, and if this is someone close to you that you will see often maybe add, "Oh, I don't like being compared to other people so I'd rather you didn't answer that."  Again, said with a smile that shows you are not accusing them of doing anything malicious, just that you are not interested in a discussion of who they think you look like.


Morticia

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Re: "No offence, but..."
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2014, 10:46:19 AM »
I can see the title of the thread was confusing. Apologies. The people don't start with "No offence, but". I was drawing a parallel between that phrase and "Do you know who you look like".

Both of them, in my experience, mean "Brace yourself! An insult is coming."
Now our mom says she's changed her mind about the devil's brood, they may be evil so she thinks, but at least they're never rude...
                                        -- Big Rude Jake

My travel blog: http://www.stepmonster.ca