We have an expression in English, and you may have a simlar expression in your native language:
"There are always three sides to every story. Your side, my side, and the truth".
When we discuss a topic with someone and we state our opinion honestly, we should speak or write in a manner that is not offensive to the other person or persons.
The following tips may help to achieve that goal:
1) Ask the other person to state their opinion first.
2) Tell the other person that you hope your opinion does not offend them.
3) Smile to communicate friendliness and acceptance.
4) Sit or stand up straight to project confidence.
5) Keep an open body posture (no crossed arms or legs) to communicate openness.
6) Speak in a relaxed manner (mind the tone of your voice!).
7) Make eye contact.
8) Nod when the other person speaks – this shows understanding, but not necessarily agreement.
9) Periodically say, “I understand,” or, “I hear what you’re saying.”
10) Let the other person finish his/her thoughts before offering yours.
But most of all, show respect and be polite.
I didn't know the difference between a mistake and an error, so thanks for pointing it out!
I also think that jokes are a tricky thing in conversations, not only when there is someone who's speaking in a second language and he/she could have misunderstood a joke.
Even, among people who speak the same language jokes can be misinterpreted and end up being offensive or rude, although it was not the initial intention.
I think it is quite normal for people to misunderstand each other when they are speaking in their second language.
In fact, I often wish I had said something in a different way (differently) even when I am speaking my own native language.
These types of problems often occur when someone speaks using their second language.
At that point, we have two options.
1) We can think that they knew what they were saying, in which case they are simply wrong to say it that way, or
2) We can remind ourself and try to understand that they do not know the correct words to use, i.e., their vocabulary in not big enough, and the errors they made were innocent errors, and we should realize that they meant no harm.
Actually, when a language learner says something incorrectly because they don't know the correct way, that is not called a mistake. It is a simple error.
If I have studied Spanish and I have learned how to count "uno, dos, tres" (1, 2, 3) and I say "uno, dos, cuatro (1,2, 4), then that is a mistake.
But if I was trying to learn by myself, and I had not had the chance to practice counting or being corrected, then that would be an error.
I agree with all the tips, Richard. They are things that might help to make the conversation more effective and feel comfortable.
When talking about foreing languages (languages we are learning) there is a problem, and this is the fact that someone who's learning a language might be saying something in a polite way, but to the ears of the listenner (if he/she is a native speaker) that can be rude or too informal.
It has happened to me with people who are living in my city but are not Spanish speakers (they are from other countries). Sometimes they talk about serious issues in an extremly informal way (the vocabulary, expression they use), I know this is because they are still learning the language but someone could missunderstand them.