Wendywoman on Dealing With Insults…

Below is a request from a journalist:

I am writing an article about dealing with “micro-insults” — little snubs and acts of thoughtlessness — in the workplace. I would like to interview career coaches/experts/counselors about how best to react to 5-8 common micro-insults. When do you speak up and when do you let the micro-insult slide? For example, how should you deal with the situation when someone is tapping away on their BlackBerry while you’re speaking at a meeting, or constantly interrupting you? How can you best deal with someone who is working from home and hangs up on you to answer the door or take another call? How about someone who constantly cancels meeting with you? What are some other common micro-insults and what are the best ways to deal with them?

Could you please answer, “When do you speak up and when do you let the micro-insult slide?” And briefly answer one of the example questions?


Do I need to react every time someone hurls an insult my way?  The answer is no.  Best to be selective about how you respond, not react, to those situations.  One-off insults are better ignored.  Habitual insults generally provide a pattern, so you can often manage them before they happen if you pay attention.  Most people become nearly crippled from their fear of becoming a doormat if they don’t speak up.  Not so. You may not be able to control the situation, but you can manage how you will participate. If you forget this, you will become the victim.

No matter what the insult, first and foremost, you don’t always have to exert power to have it.  Exerting it isn’t what determines that it is there.  In a sense, it is knowing that it is there and believing that you have it that gives you the option of asserting it when you need to.  In other words, by not responding, not using your power, it becomes the epicenter of your power. By not doing “push back”, there is more power in peaceful resistance than in meeting aggression with aggression. Acting like the Crabby Crappy you work with will only make your life more difficult.  What you need to do is meet aggression with assertion.  It means that you make your responses choices so that you are in charge of how you are managing you and not letting them determine it for you.   You are only subservient if you allow their behavior to dictate your emotions.