If someone starts talking to you by saying, “With all due respect…” beware you will soon to be disrespected!


  1. I have found that it really depends on the speaker. I have a friend from Birmingham (England) who says it and actually means it in a respectable manner.

  2. Hi Ric!
    You ask a good question that has a floating answer!
    A former student of mine would always start talking to me using that phrase… “With all due respect…” and then, with the next word out of her mouth, zing me with some snotty complaint or cruel observation she made about other students.
    As I was reflecting back on that student — who now seeks a letter of recommendation from me — I began to wonder back to other moments when I’ve heard that phrase used and I cannot remember an instant when that phrase wasn’t a way to deflect oncoming hostility or gratuitous avarice!

  3. Hi Gordon!
    Why bother saying the phrase at all in your example?
    If a person is truly respectful one would not need to employ that phrase in the first place, right?
    You’d only use the phrase if you have previously been disrespectful.

  4. I think your letter of recommendation should start “With all due respect…” 🙂
    I also think that you are correct in your assessment of the term, Gordon’s observation “notwithstanding” ( another word of suspect motives)…

  5. The other is “with the greatest of respect” my last boss always started his tirades with it.
    I can hear him now ………….

  6. Ric!
    Harr! If I started my recommendation with “With all due respect…” the heck would rain down on me for being disingenuous!
    Oooo… what if my email response turning her down started with that phrase… hmmm… but that would assume on its face I had an ounce of respect for her in the first place…
    “With all due respect…” is never followed by anything good.
    “With all due respect, Gordon, I think you’re the tops!” is never heard!
    That phrase is always a weak way into setting up a complaint: “With all due respect, Gordon, I think you’re wonky.” is a much more likely co-mingling of opposite intents!

  7. Nicola!
    Crazy! It’s so funny how certain phrases can make your shoulders creep upward — not for what they stand for — but for what they’re setting up!
    Your boss and my student are keen ways to induce cringing!

  8. I wonder what your former student would have replied if you stopped her after that phrase and asked, “With all respect due to what?”
    The phrase seems to me to be one of two things. One, a shorthand that means the person knows some respect is due to you. But they are not saying what it is, so is meaningless. “Due respect” for what? Your position of authority? Your knowledge? Your experience? Two, a set up to a verbal blow in a match. “With all due respect – ” BLAM!

  9. Hi Antoinette!
    I don’t think my student has any clue what “With all due respect…” means. I think she learned to use it as a set up to a BLAM!
    Maybe we can make “With all due respect…” the new catch-phrase! It can be in-and-of-itself a the perfect mannered insult for the Ages: Say that phrase and you don’t even have to finish your sentence!
    You can use it on small children, dogs and cats, enemies, associates, bosses…
    “With all due respect.”
    And that’s it! BLAM! Insult delivered!

  10. I can think of one more similar phrase like this – “no offence…” –
    With it there is always an “offence” beneath the surface! How superficial!!!

  11. That’s another good excellent, awful, phrase, Katha!
    You found one that also makes me cringe, especially when it’s added as an afterthought!

  12. You are right, it makes me cringe too!
    The thing I don’t understand is why people use it on earth? Is it supposed to be the benchmark of civilized conversation? Either you offend someone or you don’t. How come you offend someone with “no offence?” – I don’t get it.

  13. I think the reasoning, Katha is if you insult them up front, then the real insult won’t sting as much in comparison when delivered. It’s the old “I have good news and bad news for you” ploy.

  14. It’s one of the those phrases that Members of Congress who hate each other like to say because they aren’t allowed to engage in vicious ad hominen attacks on each other on C-SPAN.
    Example: “Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time, and with all due respect to my colleague from New Hampshire, I rise in opposition to this amendment.”
    It’s like those compliments that are followed by a “but.”
    Example: “You’re doing a great job for XYZ Corp and your contributions are greatly appreciated. Without you we wouldn’t be where we are today, but we’re letting you go and have alerted security to escort you from the building immediately!”

  15. That means it’s intentional! Interesting!!!
    I know sometimes I come across as a very upfront person…almost to the extent of a tactless one, but I believe what I speak and I act accordingly. At times I don’t even realize my comments can offend someone as I don’t see it that way.
    I am leaning to work on it…but offending someone intentionally? I don’t know. If I have to settle a score – I will say I am settling a score here. I won’t back stab. I don’t believe in foul play.
    We have similar kind of phrase in our language which I never use. It’s funny, when you compare similarities between two different cultures!

  16. Hi Katha!
    What are the English translations for these ideas your language, Katha?
    I think it’s all about tone — you can be direct without being blunt and crass — if your vocal quality is not aggressive and punishing.
    I find people prefer a direct answer instead of a circular hemming and hawing.

  17. “No offense” at the end of something can mean, “Oops, I said something I maybe shouldn’t have said in front of you.” Or it can mean, “There, that’s what I think, and you are oversensitive if you are offended.”
    As I have mentioned before, I am the only woman in an all-male department at work. I get to hear that one a lot. It makes me laugh.

  18. Here’s a real-life example from the halls of governance:
    “Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my beloved colleagues, what…”
    Note the use of beloved in the above example to increase the stinging power of the with all due respect phrase.
    We can learn something from our leaders!

  19. Good point, Antoinette!
    These “wiggle phrases” are a means to cover true intent and that’s why I don’t cotton to them.
    I can’t wait for the day with “With all due respect, I think you are marvelous” is finally interpreted as the double-dirty put-down it was always intended to be!

  20. It makes me cringe, Chris! It’s all so hollow and impolite. That sort of “genteel sophistication” has bee usurped by impending reality!

  21. David,
    I think whether people prefer a driect answer has a lot to do with culture and accepted practice. There are corporate cultures and family cultures that encourage direct answers and those that censure direct answers.
    I prefer to be honest and direct while employing tact, but have found that this method causes problems for me in my current company. Successful people at work use the sort of language excerpted by Chris in his two examples.

  22. “Please don’t mind” and “don’t take it otherwise” will go close…
    I use none of them. At the most I say – “I didn’t mean it…”
    Another strange example –
    “Don’t get me wrong…I love him/her to death…but she is a #*&@^$…to work with/play with/stay with…” etc.
    Why people have to sugarcoat it? Don’t they understand it sounds so phony?

  23. I once went to see Beck in Philadelphia. I got wind of the fact that the people ahead of me in line had backstage passes. I tried to befriend them but they were pretty cold. Finally one of them said, “No offense, but why are you following us?” I thought we were getting along well until then.

  24. it’s like when people start to say something with “to be honest…”
    does it mean all the other times they’re being dishonest?

  25. Sorry…ooops…
    Terrible typo – it should read “offense” –

  26. Thank you for the assurance David!
    This is hilarious!
    I got my points taken of for writing “have got” in a paper instead of “have gotten” – I had to explain I never heard a word called “gotten” ever in my life before reaching here…
    So I always mention it as a “typo” – thanks for understanding! 😀

  27. I used to follow mostly the British grammar…at times it gets confusing for both my instructor and me!

  28. I think British grammar and spelling are fine here as long as they are always uniformly employed and one doesn’t switch back-and-forth within a single paper.

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