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Not that anyone asked me or anything, but ...

I've made a few comments in my life that someone else found to be offensive. Sometimes this happened because I was ignorant, sometimes it happened because I was misunderstood.

At any rate. I've found that the best, simplest, briefest, and most pleasant way to deal with these situations is as follows:

Person1: <something offensive, or potentially offensive, or unoffensive but perceived to be offensive>

Person2: You know, I don't know if you meant it this way, but what I heard you say was <something offensive>. That hurt my feelings, because <explanation>.

Person1: Wow, I'm glad you brought that to my attention, because I didn't mean it that way at all. What I meant was <re-statement>. Alternative response: Wow, I'm surprised that you were hurt by that. Could you explain why, to help me understand?

Person2: I'm glad that you didn't mean it that way.

Person1: I'm glad that you explained it to me.

Person2: Would you like a lifesaver?


Of course, this doesn't always work. I once tried to explain to a "friend" why the phrases "don't Jew (e.g. haggle) me down in price" and "don't be Jewish (e.g. stingy) with the mustard" were upsetting, only to have him patiently explain that I shouldn't find those phrases upsetting, since Jews really were cheap and stingy. Needless to say, he got no lifesavers.
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