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  • AuntieAuntie

How to Handle Someone Insulting You

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

Ce, last week we talked about your swim lessons. You mentioned that there are girls at your lessons that make fun of you and tease you. You don’t like going to swimming anymore even though you have wanted to be a mermaid since you could talk. You asked what you should do.

There are several options to deal with bullies and people who insult you. There is a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt- “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. It's a nice quote but that concept is sometimes hard to remember when you are furious and want to cry. I have a very spicy physical reaction when people insult me and I can’t control it. I feel hurt and angry quickly and I didn’t know what to say or do. I have collected a few responses over the years and I figured I’d share them with you so that you can give them a try at your next swim practice.

Whatever response you choose, don’t show that they hurt you. This is most important. You can keep your face still or laugh it off, but don’t cry and don’t act like you were insulted. Even if you need to pretend. Making fun of you is only fun for bullies if they see that their comments have affected you. You can even pretend like you are confused and don’t understand what they are saying, but don’t let them see that it hurt you. Insults, just like gifts, stay with the giver when they are not accepted.

1. Ignore them, say nothing, and do not respond. Have fun despite them. You can’t beat someone having fun.

2. “Okay”. Saying this word does not mean that you are agreeing with them. You are just acknowledging the comment. You can say it with a flat face and no emotion. You can say it with a concerned look on your face, wondering if they are crazy.

3. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you. Can you say that again/ can you repeat that?” Most people don’t want to repeat an insult because the punch line has been ruined by you not hearing them. If they do repeat it, just tell them “It’s really loud out here and I couldn’t quite hear you” or something similar. It’s usually frustrating for the bully.

4. “Jeez, that was mean.” People don’t like it when you call them mean or rude out loud. It’s embarrassing. It is important to be strong if you use this one. Don’t say it quietly with your head down or looking away. For this to work, you need to look right at them, stand up straight and say it to their face in a calm way.

5. “Thank you”. You need to be genuine to use this one. Thoughtfully look at them and say it like you mean it with a smile on your face. You can even add something like “Thank you for your opinion” or “thank you for sharing your observational skills”. Technically, they are telling you important information about them. They are not your people, they are not your tribe. So thank them genuinely by helping you figure out what type of person they are.

6. “What do you mean by that?” For this one to work, you need to ask them with complete curiosity in your voice, totally disarmed and thoughtful. You can’t ask them this question when you are angry because it will seem like a threat. People usually have trouble trying to explain the insult. They just get flustered and drop it because you threw them off.

7. “I don’t care what you think of me”. Again, you must say it calmly and without emotion. I know, you do care. Everyone cares what other people think of them. But just be calm and pretend like you don’t. Fake it and walk away.

8. “Don’t be jealous”. Say it with swagger. Say it with confidence and attitude. Say it like you are the coolest person on the face of the planet. Add a hair flip for extra emphasis.

9. “Wow”. Usually best said while slowly shaking your head with your eyes wide like they are nuts. You can even look at them like you are sad and you pity them.

10. “Psssht”. So effective. So simple. I like using this one with a look of ‘you’re ridiculous’ on your face. There is a comedian out there named Ed Bassmaster who nails it:

11. “You’re having a bad day, aren’t you?” Best said after a pause, with a look of concern on your face.

12. “Yeah, ….and?” You’re confused and underwhelmed with this one. What’s the big deal? Say it like they are dumb and you don’t get why they are so stupid.

If someone insults you, they are telling you a lot about who they are as a person. They may think that putting other people down makes them look better by comparison. They may feel like they need to insult others to be popular. They may have a horrible life and come from a mean place and being mean is all they know. People can use insults as defense when they feel intimidated, jealous, or have low self-esteem. Whatever the reason for being mean, don’t take it personally. You can even think of insults as constructive criticism and valuable information about how the outside world might see you. You don’t need to believe that insults are true, but sometimes you can learn from them. We are all trying to do the best we can with what we’ve stand up for yourself, but be kind. Good luck at swim practice!

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