Have you ever felt uncomfortable encountering another person, knowing nothing about the person other than what you have perceived based on appearance and articulation, and your expectations of how that person should interact with you according to your perceptions?

Have you ever asked yourself what it is about yourself, not about that other person, that has made you feel uncomfortable?

When you only think about what that other person has done by merely being in your presence, making you feel discomfort based on your perceptions (as opposed to the reality of that person’s harmless interactions with you), have you reacted in a way that was disrespectful to that person?

When you say something, and feel the need to follow up with “no offense,” rest assured, what you have said was offensive and warrants an apology, not a pardon.

Oftentimes, you don’t even need to use disrespectful words. Be mindful of your body language, your tone of voice and how you interact with the other people around you, who you feel more comfortable with. The person who you may or may not have wished to intentionally insult is very aware that you have acted not just offensively, but in a discriminatory manner, as the difference in the interactions are noticed not only by the one who have demeaned, but also the bystanders.

When the person who you have offended reacts, please listen, and take responsibility for your discomfort.

Kellie Pelletier, Lewiston

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