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7 Effective Ways to Deal with Insults

Updated on September 5, 2021

Insults are capable of causing pain, even long after they have been delivered. Years after the upbraiding, you might suddenly recall the incident and be convulsed with resentment and anger.

Physical violence leaves marks and bruises, you can show it to someone and gain sympathy. But verbal violence, on the other hand, leaves no visible marks. You fail to point out the cruelty of the perpetrator and it becomes hard to protect yourself.

Often when we are insulted, we just stand there dumbfounded—unable to respond properly.In this article I’m going to give you a few effective tips─that I myself use─so that you can protect yourself from verbal violence.

Rule No.1 is

You Must NEVER Get Defensive

When you try to defend, explain or justify your actions, it shows that you acknowledge what the insulter is saying. It puts you in a very weak position. you become like an accused person standing in court desperately trying to prove her innocence. Do not do that. You do not have to explain your actions. When you do it, the insulter begins to feel more powerful and escalates the attack. John Gottman renowned psychologist and therapist believes that defensiveness invites more criticism.

It’s the worst way to handle an insult. If you do not defend yourself, you come out of a confrontation as a winner.

See this confrontation: A Professor Chastises his Doctoral Student While other Students are also Present.

Professor: I have just received a complaint that you were very rude to a junior student. You insulted her in front of her friends. She says you look down on her just because you are a Ph.D. student and she is not. The fact that you are a doctoral student shouldn’t go to your head. You are still a student, not a professor. You cannot order around junior students. Even if she treated you with disrespect, you should have been gentle and forgiving. Now, you must apologize to her. You must drive out this arrogance out of your system.

Student: Yes Professor

Professor: Junior students are humans and deserve to be treated fairly. You have to set an example before juniors. When the student complained to me, I was shocked. You are my doctoral student; it tarnishes my image when you behave like this.

Student: you are right professor

Professor Continues to lecture about morality…

Student: I perfectly agree.

Professor begins to talk about other things..

The student in this example doesn’t consider the professor worthy of an explanation of his behavior. The professor is likely to realize that it’s not easy to upset or humiliate his student.

Agree With What the Insulter Says

Instead of disagreeing with the insulter,choose to agree with her.This way she won’t be able to get the satisfaction that she seeks by insulting you.

See these Examples

Insulter: :That outfit hides your bulges.

You :Yes,it makes me look good.I was looking at myself in the mirror a few minutes ago.

Insulter:Mirrors don’t lie,lucky for you,they can’t laugh either.

You:Yes I know I’m lucky.

Someone said a rude thing to kylie Jenner.I really liked her response.Here,it is:

‘’You look like a 14-year-old prostitute’’.

19-year-old Kylie Jenner replied,’’I think I look like a 19-year-old prostitute.’’

Insulter:You are the most obnoxious,selfish person I have ever met.

You:I’m relieved that you think that way about me.

Insulter: I want to be just like you when I get old

I hope you do.To be like me, you will need to read a lot and experience life more fully.

Search for insulting statements on internet,paste them in a word file and write answers.This practice will help you the next time you are attacked.

You Should Try to Cultivate the Habit of Indifference

Buddha said,’’just as a solid rock is not shaken by the storm, even so the wise are not affected by praise or blame.''

You should try to cultivate the habit of not caring what other people cannot control their words but you can control your actions.Do what’s in your control.

Keep in mind,What really counts is your opinion about yourself.if you think you are smart, loyal and a good person,do not begin to doubt when someone tells you that you are not.Trust what your heart says.

In his brilliant book,A guide to the good life;the ancient art of stoic joy, philosopher William B. Irvine counsels,

‘’take the insults of..fellow humans to be like the barking of a dog. When a dog barks, we might make a mental note that the dog in question appears to dislike us, but we would be utter fools to allow ourselves to become upset by this fact, to go through the rest of the day thinking, ‘Oh, dear!That dog doesn’t like me!’ .’’

Consider the Source of an Insult

Irvine advises that when insulted, we should consider the source of an insult before we react. If you respect and value the person then his critical comments should not bother you. Suppose, for example, you are learning to be a writer and the person criticizing your writing is your teacher. You should not feel bad about his criticism because you have hired him to teach you and help you improve your writing skills. If the flaws in your writing are not pointed out, how will you improve? So, in that case, it’d be foolish to feel insulted.

On the other hand, if someone that you dislike, insults you. You should feel relieved as it gives you further proof that you are right in disliking that person. The fool doesn’t approve of your actions should actually make you feel good .If the fool agreed with you, then it would have been a cause for concern.

Ignore the Insult as if it didn’t Happen

Often, it’s hard to think of a proper response to an insult.

The easiest response to an insult is a nonresponse. Anyone can give this response you do not have to rack your brains for a clever reply. It’s easier than humorous response and much more effective.

When you are insulted, behave as if the insult didn’t happen at all. When you do not give a response to the insulter he gets confused whether his verbal bullet really hit the target or not.

Thus you rob him of the pleasure of upsetting you. You show him that he is not worthy of even a response from you and you are indifferent to his existence.

No one likes to be ignored, the insulter will feel humiliated by his failure to get any response from you, not even a response with humor. This will really upset him.

Cato a Roman statesman was once struck by someone at public baths. The person didn’t know who Cato was. When he realized his mistake he apologized to Cato. Cato replied, ’’I don’t remember being struck’’. Thus ‘’Cato showed a finer spirit by not acknowledging the blow than he would have by pardoning it,’’ writes Irvine.

Instead of getting Defensive, Attack

Some bullies are so dumb that they do not understand our silence or indifference to their actions and continue to attack. This is when you should stand up for yourself.

When insulted, instead of saying, ’’no, this is not true,’’ or ‘’you cannot talk to me like this’’, or ignoring his criticism, say ‘’you sound bitter. You seem to be having a rough day.’’ Or ‘’ let’s talk about this when you’re calmer.’’

By using this technique you force the other person to think and respond defensively. Instead of justifying your actions which gives him more reasons to support his claims that you have done something wrong. You ask him what’s wrong with him and let him spend all day on this.

Give an Intense,Unemotive Silent Stare

Perhaps you have read about or experienced psychopathic stare. It’s an intense, unyielding, expressionless stare as a psychopath analyzes his victim. Most of the people find it very hard to handle.

Research has shown that staring into eyes of someone can be threatening to the person being stared at. It might be considered an act of aggression and hostility.

When you are bullied or insulted you can choose to stare at the person. Try not to blink or speak, just silently stare. After almost 3 seconds the verbal perpetrator will begin to feel uncomfortable and he might say,’’ What are you looking at’’ with a nervous laugh.

If You are in Verbally Abusive Relationship

The advice in this article is relevant only if you are being insulted by a friend,colleague,distant relative,boss or a stranger.But if you are in a verbally abusive relationship the advice in this article won’t be of much help.

You will need to read more.

If your partner is verbally abusive I recommend reading Patricia Evans books,The verbally abusive man ,can he change? and The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to recognize it and how to respond.

If you have a close blood relation with your verbal abuser,I recommend reading,The gentle art of verbal self-defense by Suzette Haden Elgin.This book is a gem.


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