First-Class Responses to Second-Class PutdownsWouldn’t it be great if people went out of their way to appreciate what you did right instead of berating you for what you did wrong? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if people nixed their insults, squelched their criticisms and, instead, supported and encouraged you? Before you interrupt my starry-eyed fantasy, let me enjoy my moment of reverie.

Okay, micro-vacation over. Back to reality, where people blame and criticize all the time — and that’s on their good days! On their bad days, they throw in insults, curses, ridicule and humiliation.

When you’re on the receiving end of such put-downs, how should you respond?

Most people are familiar with only three strategies:

  1. Explain or justify why you did what you did
  2. Respond offensively by attacking the attacker.
  3. Say nothing and silently stew.

Such responses frequently result in attacks and counterattacks or passive-aggressive behavior laced with blame and shame. Thus, it’s a good idea to expand your repertoire of responses. Here are seven ideas for you to try on:

  1. Agree with what’s been said. Disagree with the negative value judgment.

    “Yes, I agree. My room is a mess. No need to call me names, though. I’ll clean it up this evening. Promise.”

  2. Respond to what’s happening (the process), not to what was said(the content).

    “I can see you’re upset with me. Can you calmly explain what I did that’s bothering you?”

  3. Agree that you did something wrong and apologize.

    “Yes, I should have called earlier to cancel. I apologize. I’d like to set another date now if that’s OK with you.”

  4. Disagree but try to understand the other person’s viewpoint.

    “I didn’t think I did anything wrong but I see you’re upset. Tell me more about what’s upsetting to you so I can understand.”

  5. Enlighten the person about your sensitivities.

    “I feel demeaned when you use that tone of voice with me. You may think there’s nothing wrong with it, but it feels patronizing to me.”

  6. Offer the person another way to phrase what he said.

    “I don’t mind if you call me ‘sensitive’ but it feels like a putdown when you say I’m ‘overly sensitive.’

  7. Be succinct.

    Often, the less you say, the more powerful your message. “The name you just called me is totally unacceptable. I don’t deserve to be treated that way.”

If you believe that you’ve been unfairly put down, your goal should be to respond with valuable, constructive information in a confident, strong tone of voice.

 


Comments


View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 2 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Sapadin, L. (2013). First-Class Responses to Second-Class Putdowns. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 3, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/01/30/first-class-responses-to-second-class-putdowns/

 

Recent Comments
  • Pearliegirl: Amazing! And thank you to all of you bold enough to share a piece of you. I’m an author of this...
  • Jeannie: I am almost 65 and have ADHD Adult……I did not out grow it, but though out my adult life, I have...
  • Rockybdc: What’s prompting me to write was your inclusion of the serenity and third step prayers. I am an...
  • Ellie: Where did you get all this information about Sparks from?? Can you provide a bibliography please!!
  • melvin: Hi Jonah, I agree with you that managing behavior responded to anger works well in terms of avoidance of...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter


Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 14825
Join Us Now!