How do I respond to rude or insulting comments?
July 28, 2017 11:03 AM   Subscribe

When confronted with an insult, (not often, in what I generally think is a positive world) I tend to get a bit flustered, and have difficulty with a coherent reply. Especially if I try to keep eye contact. Recently I have tried turning my gaze at an object, giving myself a few crucial seconds to think clearly; it can also give the impression of thoughtfulness ( which it is, for me) I try to avoid looking down , and not to blink, (which seems to telegraph a fluster, a hesitation. Ideas?
posted by ebesan to Human Relations (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Can you give an example of what types of insults you regularly receive and the context in which you receive them?
posted by mmascolino at 11:12 AM on July 28, 2017 [6 favorites]

I just stare at someone, hard, with the expression of 'really?!' on my face. as in, 'really? did you actually just say that? are you really that much of an asshole?'. It makes you look (and feel) confident while making them feel like an asshole, while not saying anything at all. A bully is best made to just feel small--so a dismissal of their insult with a pointed look that makes them feel like you don't take them seriously is the best weapon.
posted by greta simone at 11:12 AM on July 28, 2017 [11 favorites]

"Wow. That's a very rude/insulting/mean thing to say."

Just call them on it. People who act like that get by because the rest of the world is generally polite and wont force them into an awkward situation.
posted by Nightman at 11:17 AM on July 28, 2017 [16 favorites]

Here's what I do - I squint my eye as if I'm confirming that my senses are working correctly.

I then inhale deeply and loudly, disappointedly, sigh. Like full shoulders drop, head to chest sigh.

That buys about 5 seconds, at which point if I've come up with nothing specific to say about the thing that was just said, I generally say "I can-not believe that you thought those words coming out of your mouth were the right ones."
posted by notorious medium at 11:21 AM on July 28, 2017 [11 favorites]

You don't need to try to fight the shock. It's okay to be shocked by an insult. I would "lean in" to that feeling and telegraph your shock openly. Say something like "What?" or "Excuse me?"
posted by stockpuppet at 11:57 AM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would suggest: "Wow." Fairly neutral expression, eyebrows just slightly raised.
posted by reshet at 12:38 PM on July 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm with greta simone, notorious medium, stockpuppet and reshet on this one. I give someone who does this a full on silent stare, sometimes with my eyebrows raised. After a few beats I say something short like, "What?" or "Did you really say that?" Then more silence. If the person does not retract/apologize, I then comment, "How insulting. [Alt: How inappropriate.] You are out of line." And then I turn the cold shoulder and ignore them.

You owe someone who is rude nothing whatever. Call them out and then cut them out until they make it up to you.
posted by bearwife at 1:16 PM on July 28, 2017

If it's in the context of a disagreement about something, I like something along the lines of, "I think your resorting to childishness proves my point."
posted by cmoj at 1:44 PM on July 28, 2017

Deciding on a standard response,like the ones suggested above, will likely make it less flustering for you. You can even practice delivering it in front of a mirror in advance!
posted by metasarah at 2:13 PM on July 28, 2017

Blow a raspberry. I've done it once or twice. It adds the right amount of insouciance and defiance that I find particularly pleasing.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:19 PM on July 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

*scathing eyebrow raise* Is. THAT. pause pause pause So.
posted by fritillary at 3:19 PM on July 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

How would you respond to a four-year-old child?
Rudeness is what someone does who is not currently operating on an adult level. It's shock value, so... don't be shocked. Be disturbed, be uncomfortable (where are your parents?) but don't waste your precious time on someone trying to pull your leg. It's never worth it to sink to their level.

I am a parent, and have worked with youth groups, so defuse the situation by a) ignore it, b) change the subject, c) pointedly state "That's enough" in a parental voice and change the subject, or d) leave. Only in a "teachable moment" should you shift from what you are currently doing and try to reason with the person to change the future behavior.

Since I am assuming we are talking about adults, the way that works is to a) defuse the situation now, b) get the person away from the audience (there is usually an audience to impress), and c) have a conversation about limits to the other person's behavior and the consequences if it continues. Don't state a consequence if you cannot follow through.

The point of rudeness it to get a reaction. Don't fall for it.
posted by TrishaU at 10:24 PM on July 28, 2017

I used to be in the same boat as you with respect to my father-in-law (FIL). He is the rudest person I ever met in my entire life and his comments would be so shockingly rude to me that I would just freeze because I would have this surreal feeling of like, "Did that really just happen?" I don't really believe in stooping to his level and being cruel or rude back nor am I good at comebacks in the moment since I was raised in a very polite country, so I just ignored him and stopped going to see my in-laws. Since then I have moved out of their country (as will their only child) and once my in-laws transfer some promised money to my husband, I will be telling my FIL that he is NEVER going to be welcome in my house. At his age (over 65), he is only as rude as he is because everyone around him has ignored it and failed to challenge it. Is it really your job to challenge this person or can you just drop them from your life? If you want a comeback, try something like, "Are you being rude on purpose or are you just stupid?"
posted by KatNips at 10:33 PM on July 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

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