Learn something - How insults work, and how to respond

by | Jun 6, 2008 12:22 AM ET

Handling Insults: With some of your own

From the article:

More often than not, insults are delivered publicly. There is a good reason for this. An insult made in confidence between two people only hurts the recipient, whereas an insult made in public can be a platform for attention for the aggressor. You are merely a stepping stone to laughs, dominance and respect for the aggressor....
As an office worker, you may have also witnessed a public lashing. Aggressors thrive on our need to be respected by others, and will attack the very fibre that connects us to colleagues. The most common symptom of bullying in the office is the disconnect suffered by the victim from others....
Growing up, I was always told to “ignore” insults, not to respond. I personally found this advice to be ineffective in a group environment. Rather than ignore the retort, I disconnect from it - I don't take it personally. Though I still offer a response, even if it is a smile and a shrug of the shoulders - to indicate that I couldn't care less.
In front of work colleagues, I think it's important to make an example of people who try to step on you. In a meeting, if somebody says:
“The work was given to Brian. Of course it's not done. What did you expect?”
Brian would only admit to this insult if he sat in silence and ignored it. I feel that the long lived advice of “If somebody insults you, just ignore them” is both unrealistic and ineffective. The aim should be to reduce the impact of the insult, by reducing the aggressor in the eyes of his/her peers.

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