5 Classy Responses When Someone Makes Disrespectful Comments
Have you ever been in that awkward position of having overheard someone say something rude or disrespectful about you or someone you know? Especially if that thing is false or exaggerated? If you answered ‘yes,’ you are not alone – almost everyone has been faced with that exact dilemma at some point in their life.
Many of us do not feel comfortable telling people that they are wrong or that they are malicious, but it is not all that difficult to do if you know how to handle the situation.
Here are several templates that can help you to tell someone they are out of line.
Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.
Script 1 | Conversation Between Acquaintances, e.g. School Mums
Hey [Insert Name],
I heard you telling Melody that I shout at my children ‘all the time’. I must admit I found it quite difficult to hear you saying this.
I imagine your comments came from hearing me shout at my children on Tuesday, when Riley was about to push Megan out into traffic because they were so engrossed in their game. I had to shout to get their attention, and yes, I was cross and frightened and I scolded him. Please do not judge my whole parenting style on one moment that you did not observe in full. If you had seen any child about to tumble out into the road, I’m sure you would have shouted too!
Thanks, and I hope to see you at the summer fair on Wednesday.
All the best,
[Insert Your Name]
This text pinpoints the inaccuracy in the story going around, and makes clear that you directly overheard the gossip, so there is no way for the other person to deny it. The issue is then tackled robustly, but calmly, giving a very reasonable explanation.
The situation is then defused by drawing a line under it with ‘Thanks’ and moving briskly on to the next school event showing that this incident will not interfere with future interactions at the school.
Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.
This article was originally published on https://www.nevertherightword.com. If this article appears on any other site other than https://www.nevertherightword.com without clear referencing it is a violation of the copyright owned by https://www.nevertherightword.com.
Script 2 | Keeping It Cordial: A Senior Colleague or Manager to Someone Subordinate to Them
In this case, the best informal way to deal with the issue is a quick informal chat, for example, let us say it is going-home time, and the person who has been spreading gossip is in the lift, alone:
Hi [Name], hold the lift please? Thank you.
Oh, by the way, I overheard you telling [Name] earlier today that [Insert Name] can be [Insert variable]. That is a rather inappropriate word to use to describe someone who has worked their way up through the company to be the first female General Manager. It’s especially disrespectful to [Name], who has never been anything but fair with her staff members.
Yes, she is firm and she expects her employees to work to the best of their ability – as would any manager. I have two pieces of advice for you – observe [Name’s] work ethic closely, with an open mind. You will learn a lot from her if you do. And secondly, perhaps don’t denigrate senior management in public places: what if [Name] herself had heard you?
Have a good evening and see you tomorrow.
This is a good warning tone to take with a subordinate if you want to avoid a formal disciplinary scenario.
Keeping the talk confined to a lift or while walking out of the building ensures that it is short and sweet, and allows the person being spoken to walk away to consider what you have said. Hopefully, they will come to work the next day determined to show a bit more respect to the hardworking Shirley!
Script 3 | With a Work Friend
Hi [Insert Name],
I wonder if you could do me a favor: apparently, there are stories going around that I’ve been having a lot of time off work and that I’m lazy. I don’t know who’s spreading them, but I’d like you to help me combat this.
The truth is that I have a persistent back injury from a botched surgery and I can’t sit for hours at a desk: 8 hours in an office chair would leave me crippled for a week. The bosses know this, and they are happy for me to work remotely a lot of the time as I have a special orthopaedic chair at home. I can work for four or five hours, take a break, and then work for another four or five hours using my chair, but using a regular chair and desk leaves me in agony after just two hours. As long as I do my work on time, my manager is more than satisfied.
If you hear anyone saying that I don’t pull my weight, please could you a) tell them to check my work log – they’ll soon see that I more than meet my targets and b) let them know to speak to me directly, rather than spreading rumours? I know I can trust you to help me sort this all out.
Thanks, I’ll see you on Wednesday when I pop in with my paperwork.
[Insert Your Name]
By emailing the source of the rumour without blaming them, you are cutting out anyone else who might interfere with your attempt to end any internal office nastiness, and you are avoiding any unpleasantness between the two of you. You are also saying that you trust them, and hopefully that will encourage remorse for their rude behaviour.
In this course, Chris Croft shares methods for recognizing the characteristics of some of the most common types of difficult people, and gives you strategies for dealing with these individuals more effectively. Chris provides practical techniques for dealing with a variety of different behaviors, including negativity, aggression, childishness, and selfishness. Plus, he explains how to overcome your own negative thinking, and get the best from a difficult boss.
Script 4 | Maintaining Discipline in School: Teacher to Child
‘[Insert name], could I have a word please?’
Ensure the door is closed and that no one can overhear you telling off the child – discipline is one thing, humiliation, especially in today’s world of never-off social media, is entirely another.
‘I overheard you saying something quite nasty about Ms. Johnson. Do I need to repeat it to you?’
Most of the time, this will result in a head-shake ‘no’, as the child will be appalled that their words are coming back to them from a teacher.
‘Ms. Johnson might not be your favorite teacher, but she is your teacher and as such, you should show her respect at her place of work. In the future, please think before you say anything so nasty again – you would not like it if people said mean things about you, would you?’
Keeping your tone neutral will help the child to see that while they have done a bad thing, they are not necessarily a bad person – a reassurance that everyone needs from time to time. If they offer an apology, always accept it immediately, as children need to learn that saying sorry does work! Also turning the situation around, asking them how they would feel if it was done to them, is a good way to encourage empathy and understanding. Once the child shows they understand, give them a quick hug or pat on the back and send them on their way.
Letter 5 | Speaking Up to a Manager
This is a formal letter, typed and printed, but signed in ink, sealed in a Private and Confidential envelope.
‘Dear [Insert Name],
I was in the stockroom, sorting out the stationery this afternoon, and I could not help but overhear your comment that my hair, ‘looks like Einstein’s grandchild’. While I am not exactly sure what you meant by that, I get the gist.
I found it quite upsetting that someone I look up to and admire as much as you could talk about me in such a way. It has made me lose a little bit of respect for you, to be honest.
I was not sure how to tell you that I had overheard you, but I felt that I needed to say something. I hope you can appreciate my point of view?
Berating your superiors is never easy and it can even be unwise, so do temper your determination to have your say with caution as to the security of your job.
Deciding if and how to tell someone they are out of line is never easy. Once you have decided that you deserve more consideration from a superior, be mindful that your job may depend on them, even if you are absolutely correct to call them out.
Explain what you have heard and then let them know that their behavior was inappropriate or unacceptable. If you can do so in a way that appeals to their better nature, so much the better. While tackling poor behavior is never easy, you should find some satisfaction in knowing that you have pointed out your poor treatment.
Any of these templates can be adjusted to suit your particular scenario and hopefully using them will encourage an apology to be offered, along with a modification of the undesirable behavior going forward.
At Never the Right Word, our aim is to give you practical examples of how to handle life’s difficult conversations. If you have an awkward situation that you’d like example templates for, request a topic here.
Lastly, if you found this content helpful or want to share your own examples, let us know in the comments. We’d also be delighted if you shared this article and joined us on social media too!
Never the Right Word
Hi there! I’m Amy, and I’m the person behind Never the Right Word. I’m a designer-by-day who’s fascinated by human psychology; you’ll find me learning about what makes others tick through all types of media and good old-fashioned conversation.
In 2019 Never the Right Word was born to fill the gap of ‘how-to’ websites with copy and paste examples showing you EXACTLY what you need to say to steer difficult conversations into positive outcomes.
Relevant Books We Recommend...
Packed with over 325 ready-to-use phrases to use when working with challenging personalities, Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People by Renée Evenson is an all-in-one guide for resolving conflict. Organized for easy reference, this book offers powerful tools for defusing potentially explosive situations, such as; 20 challenging coworker behaviors, with specific phrases and actions for dealing with each, 10 difficult boss personality types, with guidelines for working through problems with each, blunder recovering tips, and a five-step process for turning bad situations into positive ones. We highly recommend this book. You can get your copy of Powerful Phrases by CLICKING HERE.
In Difficult Conversations: What to say in tricky situations without ruining the relationship; author Anne Dickson describes a range of difficult conversations that frequently occur in intimate, social, and work situations, and reveals simple but powerful techniques that will help you to transform the scenario. You'll discover how to communicate directly and honestly - without causing friction with those close to you. We love that this book offers 'real-life' examples and links to strategic and high impact negotiations. To get this book from Book Depository please CLICK HERE.
In Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well the world-renowned team behind the Harvard Negotiation Project offers a simple framework with powerful tools to demonstrate how we can extract the best results out of our feedback. We particularly like this book for the abundance of practical takeaways which reveal why receiving feedback is usually tricky and uncomfortable and how we can combat these fears in order to become the best versions of ourselves. You can get your copy of Thanks for the Feedback by CLICKING HERE.
Emotional Intelligence Mastery 2.0 by Travis Bradberry outlines how to read and respond to other people's signals. As we are all social beings, in many situations, emotional intelligence trumps technical skill or knowledge. We like this book because it provides lots of evidence suggesting that developing your emotional intelligence will vastly improve your life. Emotional Intelligence Mastery 2.0, has a particularly clear and thorough approach to how the brain functions with emotions and the implications- we're also shown how we can improve our relationships. Get Emotional Intelligence Mastery 2.0 by CLICKING HERE.
Check Out Our Recommended Resources.
Looking to become a digital publisher like us? We highly recommend these tried-and-tested tools:
We Recommend Elegant Themes
The Elegant Themes membership gives you complete access to 87 amazing themes and 3 awesome plugins, including Divi, the ultimate WordPress Theme and Visual Page builder. Elegant Themes have been building the world's most popular WordPress themes for the past 10 years, and rest assured their products will always be improved and maintained.
Build Anything With Divi Theme
One of the most popular WordPress themes in the world. Building layouts is easy and fast, making it ideal to create mockups and wireframes, prototyping a design, and creating the website itself. Build from the frontend or backend. The builder is intuitive. It's easy to learn and can be used by non-developers to create amazing websites.
Customize With Divi Cake Plugins
Divi Cake’s main goal is to help the members of the Divi community find the perfect premium Divi themes, layouts, and plugins created by leading Divi developers and designers. Shop hundreds of premium Divi products like Divi child themes, Divi layouts, and Divi plugins on Divi Cake, the community-driven Divi Marketplace. Find out more about Divi Cake here.
We ❤️Shutterstock Media
We get our images from the OG in stock assets. Boost your business with the right images. They're royalty-free and ready to use. Footage & Music Libraries. 4k Images Added per Hour. No Daily Download Limit. Speedy Search & Discovery. With flexible plans and countless amounts of premium content uploaded weekly, we had to mention Shutterstock.
Skill-Up With LinkedIn Learning
When you want to enhance your professional skills with expert-led, online video tutorials, the only place to go is LinkedIn Learning (Lynda). With a subscription you get 24/7, unlimited access to over 13,000 business, design & tech online courses and with a free month. We like them because we get expert-led courses that we can access anytime, anywhere. What's not to love?
Reliable Hosting With SiteGround
SiteGround boasts a whole list of fantastic features at amazingly affordable prices. Along with multiple growth options, free site transfers and domains, built-in Content Delivery Network integrations, WordPress support, AND human support we wouldn't go to anyone else. They're basically faster, safer, and more supportive- you can check them out here.
We Trust Grammarly Premium
Even seasoned writers need a helping hand at times, that’s why we trust Grammarly Premium. As the World's Most Accurate Online Grammar Checker, Grammarly Premium goes beyond grammar to help you ensure that everything you write is clear, engaging, and professional. Try Grammarly Premium’s AI-powered assistant here.
Find Graphics With Creative Market
Creative Market is the world’s marketplace for design. Bring your creative projects to life with ready-to-use design assets from independent creators around the world. We love the unique finds, social media templates, vectors you name it they have it. I also doesn't hurt that our founder has a little store on there...
Donating to Never the Right Word will
help us produce more free content. Thank you!