With all due respect

By | October 18, 2010

From Urban Dictionary

A term used by many people all over the world, to make the next few words coming out of their mouth, sound less offensive.

Example: With all due respect, your mom looks like a permanently aroused gorilla.

As a species, we often get angry at other people.  This is a worldwide phenomenon.  We get angry for lots of reasons.  The response to this situation is fascinating.  Some people just yell at their oponents.  Some get passive aggressive.  There are a host of defense mechanisms out there, take your pick.  The one I hate the most is veiling your anger with fake politeness.  Phrases like , “With all due respect” and “I don’t mean to be rude, but…” and “Please take this in the best possible way…” drive me nuts.

What is happening in people’s heads?  To me, I think they know, clearly, that they are about to be obnoxious.  Yet, the person doesn’t want to be considered rude, so they use this preface to make themselves feel better.  They are trying to give themselves the higher ground, even as they descend into the mud.

I did hear one interesting alternative usage.  There was a debate on NPR between two politicians.  One of them was a nut-job, plain and simple.  His opponent kept saying, “With all due respect, I think…”.  It’s a very similar usage, but the speaker was keenly aware of how he sounded to the audience.  He wanted to sound like the guy who was giving respect and paint the other guy as the one NOT giving respect.  So he wasn’t being particularly offensive after his preface.  He was, rather, trying to show how the other person was being a wackadoodle.

We go through these incredible contortions to convince ourselves (or the audience) that are nice people.  I don’t know if the world would be better if we told the truth:  I have no respect for you, and your mom looks like a permanently aroused gorilla.

One thought on “With all due respect

  1. Dan

    To me, “With all due respect” really means, “what I’m about to say should be taken as a personally attack against you as a person, but should be limited to just a specific topic. For example, “With all due respect, the sweater is ugly.” This can be a honest, blunt, truth, but it is not saying the person is bad for picking it out, or the person is ugly, or the person who gave the sweater as a gift knew it was ugly and didn’t care. It is only about the sweater. However, the key is that what you can say after the “With all due respect” cannot actually be personal. You cannot say, “with all due respect, you are a jerk”. It is supposed to be a way to be honest without being mean. Of course, it is misused all the time. But if it will is a mechanism to be more honest, then I am all for it.

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