7 ways to properly respond to an insult

7 ways to properly respond to an insult

7 ways to properly respond to an insult

October 24, 2020

Likbez Relations

You can (and should) respond to hurtful words from friends, strangers, and management in different ways. Lifehacker has compiled several strategies that will allow you not to lose face and stop a quarrel in the bud.
Photo by Yulia Sedova

Julia Sedova

7 ways to properly respond to an insult


1. Offend

This is one of the first desires that arise after an insult. But a retaliatory attack is appropriate only if it:

  • witty;
  • takes place in the circle of relatives or friends;
  • defuse the situation rather than exacerbate the conflict.

In all other cases, even if you consider yourself a wit worse than Oscar Wilde, answering an insult with an insult is not the best way out. So you sink to the level of a boorish opponent and make it clear that his words hurt you, that is, there may be some truth in them.

2. Make a joke

The difference between a witty insult and a joking response is that in the latter case, you are making fun of the situation itself. The advantages of this strategy are obvious: the insult loses its toxicity, the tension subsides, and the audience (if any) takes your side.

In this case, you can also take a pseudo-self-deprecating position. This will confuse your opponent and mask the sarcasm.

Example 1: A colleague says you’ve prepared an ugly presentation.

Answer: You are probably right. Next time, I won’t ask my five-year-old son for help.”

Example 2: A stranger calls you names.

Answer: “Thank you, this is very valuable information. You opened my eyes to my shortcomings. Something to think about over lunch.”

3. Accept

In some cases, it is really worth analyzing words that seem offensive to you. Especially if they come from people close and respected by you. In this case, take their remarks not as an insult, but as criticism that can make you better.

It would be useful to think about the motives of people, to find out what exactly made them use harsh language. Perhaps this is a violent reaction to your far from angelic behavior.

4. Respond to intent, not words

Any insult always has a hidden purpose. Make the secret clear: designate it.

For example, in response to rude words, say: “Wow! Something really serious happened between us, since you decided to hurt me.

So, on the one hand, you can unsettle your opponent, and on the other hand, find out the reason for his negative attitude.

5. Keep calm

If the insult comes not from a loved one, but from a colleague, acquaintance, or even a stranger, never show that the words hurt you. Most likely, behind them lies insecurity, dissatisfaction with their own lives and a desire to simply recoup you. Don’t let the trick work, react calmly and with a smile.

If necessary, continue to bend your line: ask what exactly caused such a reaction in a person, not paying attention to his words.

6. Ignore

Often the best answer is none. If we are talking about Internet trolls, you can simply not respond to their comments or send boors to the black list. Well, “in offline mode” you can always skip the insult past your ears or leave. You have every right to do so.

An example from ancient Roman history… Once, in the public baths, someone hit the politician Cato. When the offender came to apologize, Cato replied: “I don’t remember the blow.”

This phrase can be interpreted as follows: “You are so insignificant that not only do I not care about your apology, but I did not even notice the insult itself.”

7. Use the law

You can hold the offender accountable, or at least threaten him with it. The punishment for insult is prescribed in the Code of Administrative offensesbut slander is already in the scope of the criminal rights. In case of insults from the boss, you can contact the personnel department.

The main thing – remember: no one has the right to encroach on your honor, dignity and reputation. But you must respond to people in the same way. Otherwise, any recommendations are meaningless.

Read also 🧐
  • 10 common phrases that indicate hidden aggression
  • 7 signs of an emotional abuser
  • How to Respond to Harsh Criticism: The Steve Jobs Method

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