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Six ways to handle insulting employees at workplace

I have developed an attitude of owning up social groups I am a member of, be they families, friends, professionals or workplace. Ownership of group’s performance is an attitude promoted at workplaces, since such attitudes are associated with higher performance and business benefits. In social groups such individuals are sought out for taking difficult decisions or belling the cats.

There is a flip side to such welcome attitudes though. Group members with such high ownership may at times experience their colleagues behaving, most of the time inadvertently, in a manner which could be construed as insulting. I have observed that the high ownership is accompanied by high self-esteem and low tolerance to vacillation by colleagues who may not have high ownership.

I, being a victim of such a mindset, was looking for tips to manage such feelings of insult, having experienced similarly confusing, vacillating responses to suggestions otherwise accepted as beneficial to group’s performance. Feelings are feelings and are the outcome of experiences and perceptions, and therefore can be ill founded. But they need to be managed for harmony at workplace. Below are six powerful tips that I would like to share that can help you how to react when someone insults you at work.

How to deal with insults at work?

1. Keep your cool :

Taking a deep breath and reminding yourself that getting angry or upset will only escalate the situation, can help you manage your feelings and emotions better. You can simply walk away temporarily or deflect the situation with a neutral response. Remember that the person’s words are a reflection of them, not of you.

2. Ignore the words :

Ensuring that you ignore the words and show them you are not affected by their insult/put down can give you the power back. To ensure that the person who has insulted you should not feel that they’ve affected you in any way, ignoring can work best. You can either ignore their words by changing the topic of conversation or you could just way away from this person.

3. Pause before you respond :

Pausing before you respond gives you the power to choose your words carefully. Responding to the person with a firm yet calm tone and assertive body language can do wonders here. This technique will also help in changing the tone of a difficult conversation from hostile to productive.

Pausing and spending a little time reflecting on why you are so affected by the words of others, what beliefs you hold that contributed to your actions can help you introspect better for your personal growth and empowerment.

4. Inject Humour :

One such interesting way of responding to insults/put downs is by using humour. Humour can be a helpful tool as it can diffuse tension and defuse the situation. It can also demonstrate confidence and a positive attitude, which can make the insulter look small by comparison. Humour can also be used to reframe the situation, making it less offensive and more manageable. However, it’s important to use humour in a way that is appropriate and respectful, and not at the expense of others.

5. Practice indifference and emotional detachment :

Practising indifference and emotional detachment can be helpful for dealing with insults at work because it can help you maintain a sense of control over your emotions and reactions, rather than allowing the insults to affect you on a personal level. Developing a thicker skin and focusing on the facts and viewing insults as a form of feedback that help you stay in form at work.

It’s important to note that emotional detachment doesn’t mean you don’t have feelings, it just means that you are able to manage them and not let them control you.

6. Seek feedback :

Speak with a mentor or a neutral third party to help you provide guidance and support and to understand the situation from a different perspective. This will entail you to look at the insult with valuable insight. You can also ask the insulter for specific questions to understand the situation better and confront them for clarifications. Scheduling a one-on-one meeting with the person who has insulted you will ensure you both have an open and honest conversation about the situation.

It’s important to be professional and respectful when seeking feedback, and to keep an open mind and be willing to listen to others’ perspectives. Also, remember to communicate assertively, and to set boundaries for what you consider disrespectful or unacceptable behaviour.

Handling insults at work can be challenging, but it’s important to remember to stay professional and not to stoop to the level of the person insulting you. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that you deserve to be treated with respect and that there are resources available to you if you need help dealing with a difficult situation.

Remember that everyone has different ways to handle situations and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, however, addressing the issue professionally and assertively can be a good starting point!

Strengthen your assertiveness and communication skills with NamanHR, seizing the chance to elevate your professional conduct and adeptly manage workplace interactions.

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