Best Way to Respond to a Put-Down

There are always people around who get a thrill from putting other people down. You know who they are. It’s sad that the only way they can make themselves look better is by making fun of someone else. But the reality is that lots of people do it. Face it. Some people think it’s funny to put other people down and make them feel terri­ble. But when you’re on the receiving end, it’s not so funny, is it?

Susan Bishop is the president and CEO of Bishop Partners. She has some ways you can respond when someone is trying to put you down that can help get them to stop and make you feel a lot better.

Respond to Put Down Best Way to Respond to a Put Down

Here goes. You’re being dissed. Your first thought is to get up­set, to cry, to get mad and fight. But control it and . . .

Don’t react emotionally. The person is trying to get a rise out of vou. Don’t give her what she wants. Don’t let her know she’s get­ting to you. If you don’t react, then they are more likely to move to someone else. Even if you feel hurt on the inside, don’t show it on the outside. That’s not being phony; it’s protecting yourself.

Ignore it. This is a hard one to do. If everyone is making fun of you, you can pretend they aren’t and just go on with your life. If you can do this, more power to you. But if this one doesn’t work for you, move on.

Acknowledge it. Okay, suppose what they’re saying is true. Consider just admitting it. Someone puts you down because you don’t have a date for prom. Be casual about it. Even smile, act like “So what? It’s no big deal.” Just shrug and say, “Yup, I’m dateless for this one.” I remember my friend in high school was giving a report j in class and she was really nervous and just blanked out. Some girls, being mean, giggled and were making fun of her. She turned beet red and I felt so bad for her. Then suddenly she said, “I’m just too afraid to be up here in front of you guys. What should I do?” And she made us all feel like we were on her side. Suddenly we all turned to the teacher and backed her up saying, “Give her a break. Don’t make her give her speech.”

Have a line ready to respond. The person is trying to find someone who won’t fight back. Give it right back to them so they know you stand up for yourself. You might say, “Can’t win them all,” or, “And your point is?” Use humor. A funny comeback often is the best way to turn yourself from the person they’re laughing at into the person they’re laughing with.

Laugh about it. Laugh off what the person is saying. Even if it’s not funny, sometimes this can make the person go away. But if you aren’t truly comfortable laughing about the situation, then don’t do it. The person putting you down will know you’re just do­ing it to try to go along with them. And they might keep digging in.

Prepare ahead of time. Once you’re there facing someone who’s putting you down, it’s hard to react in an effective way. But if you practice and gear up for the time it will happen (and it’ll hap­pen, sooner or later), then you’ve got a better chance of reacting the way you want to, not the way they want you to. Get a trusted friend, or even your mom or dad, to pretend they’re the person putting you down. They might say, “Nice pimple, Zit Queen.” And you have to act out what you would do to respond. Keep pretending over and over again. By the tenth time or so, you’ll get past it. Role-play until you can respond without getting all emotional.

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