People can be all shades of insensitive when they react on the spur of the moment, even when they don’t mean to be.
Here’s a funny story: in my previous job, I managed a team of engineers. The members of my team were quite young, and I often offered them simple life and career advice tidbits, which they seemed to appreciate.
One day, one of them caught an extremely rare bug that was misdiagnosed for a long time because it was so rare. He ended up in the ICU for weeks, and eventually was left with a heavy disability - deaf in one ear, blind in one eye and a facial paralysis, a real bummer at 26 years old.
When he came out of intensive care, I visited him at the hospital. As we were chatting about his future, and the progress of his recovery, he started to get quite emotional and misty-eyed, and he told me:
− You know what? I probably won’t return to work, so I don’t know if we’ll see much of each other again soon. But there’s something I really wanted to tell you while I have the chance.
− Yeah? What’s that?
− Well, if it wasn’t for you, I’d never be where I’m at today.
Taken aback, I said:
− W…Wait, what? Are you saying I sent you to the hospital??
− No! No! I mean, with all the things you said to me over the years, I have a different outlook on life and I manage to cope. If it wasn’t for you, I might have killed myself already.
And we both burst out laughing, which frankly came as a relief
Easy to say the wrong thing, even if you don’t mean to.