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If you don't respond to a rude comment, does the commenter "win"?
Old 04-07-2012, 12:40 PM   #1
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If you don't respond to a rude comment, does the commenter "win"?

Recently, someone made a mean crack to me in others' hearing. I won't go into what the crack was, except that it was an inaccurate inference about my apparent financial status, and the supposed reason for it. (And no, it wasn't "you slept your way to the job.")

I was shocked and about all I could think of to say was, "You're wrong about that." This seemed inadequate, so I said nothing. [Added edit: To really respond, I would have had to go into personal things that were nobody's business]. Did I "lose"? Would the other people assume the commenter was "on to something there"?

Amethyst
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Old 04-07-2012, 12:46 PM   #2
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It would be hard to resist defending yourself, but it depends partly on the credibility of the offender (relative to your credibility). May not be right, but if in doubt I would respond with something short and to the point. Actual example: Visiting my former employer, an employee (universally disliked) made a crack about me with others in the room. I replied, "if that's what you need to believe to feel good about yourself, I'm happy to let you believe whatever you want, even if it's total nonsense" and walked away. I could hear the oohs and aahs after I left. Not the high road I guess, but it seemed right at the time.
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Old 04-07-2012, 12:51 PM   #3
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Just say "you're mother had a cold nose". By the time they figure it out you can be long gone.
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Old 04-07-2012, 12:51 PM   #4
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That as a no-win situation. I would like to react as Midpack suggests, but at the moment the words are not there. In the past I have approached people in private when they have said untrue things about me to correct them and to ask them to stop the harmful gossip - with mixed results.
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Old 04-07-2012, 12:57 PM   #5
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In my experience everyone knows sooner or later who the people are who pull stuff like that and no one puts much credence in anything they say.

I think your response was a good one, Amethyst.
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Old 04-07-2012, 01:05 PM   #6
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It reflects more on the person making the rude comment. For such situations you might keep handy a few generic replies, from playful to poking, to use as the situation warrants. For example, "Oh, yes, only the smartest people like you would believe such a thing" said sarcastically while smiling broadly is a way to let a rude comment slide off your back.
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Old 04-07-2012, 01:05 PM   #7
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<snip> Would the other people assume the commenter was "on to something there"?

Amethyst
Ehhhh...other people are always going to assume......

As for a snappy comeback, 99% of the time I can't think of one.

But boy howdy....later, I can come up with some good ones. Let me at 'em!
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Old 04-07-2012, 01:17 PM   #8
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I envy people who can think on their feet and seem to deal with these sort of remarks well every time. I usually think of the best response several hours later after several mental re-writes and discussions with friends.

A former co-worker would deal with unkind remarks, insinuations, and anything that might be construed as such by adopting an air of great confidence, looking directly at the person, and saying with a calm manner and a smile, "Oh, really?". It's hard to describe the exact delivery, but he had it down to a tee and when executed well, it instantly puts the pressure back on the person making the remark. He was brilliant at it. Timing plays a part also. The quicker you are with that response, the more effective it is at disarming the other person.

For the rest of us mere mortals, I think that if it's not particularly important to you what others think or say, then they will never win. If you can't think of the perfect real-time response, then I think that a minimal response, combined with a lack of interest as to what was meant or implied, is the best way to deal with it.

The title of an album by a British artist called Nicolette comes to mind, "Let No One Live Rent Free In Your Head." If what they say doesn't get to you, then they haven't won.
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Old 04-07-2012, 01:19 PM   #9
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Nah. I don't care. Even when it is true.
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Old 04-07-2012, 02:00 PM   #10
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Did I "lose"? Would the other people assume the commenter was "on to something there"?
I don't think there are winners and losers in these types of situations. Folks like to speak up for their own life styles, values, beliefs, etc. Unfortunately, sometimes this "speaking up" can involve mean-spirited remarks to or about others which likely should have gone unsaid. My own opinion is that retaliatory responses (at least any I'm clever enough to come up with on the spot) only exacerbate the awkward moment and I've generally regretted them. We all have people in our lives who do not wish us well and I find it best to just try to minimize any interaction with them and not to engage them in any back and forth verbal sparing.

Unfortunately, most conversation with casual acquaintances such as work chums, pub buddies, neighbors, club members, fellow hobbiests, etc., should be limited to either the superficial (local sports team, weather, etc.) or whatever it is you have in common such as a hobby. Finances, life style choices, religion, family, politics and the like are for only the tight, inner circle.
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Old 04-07-2012, 02:07 PM   #11
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I was shocked and about all I could think of to say was, "You're wrong about that." This seemed inadequate, so I said nothing. [Added edit: To really respond, I would have had to go into personal things that were nobody's business]. Did I "lose"? Would the other people assume the commenter was "on to something there"?
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A former co-worker would deal with unkind remarks, insinuations, and anything that might be construed as such by adopting an air of great confidence, looking directly at the person, and saying with a calm manner and a smile, "Oh, really?". It's hard to describe the exact delivery, but he had it down to a tee and when executed well, it instantly puts the pressure back on the person making the remark. He was brilliant at it. Timing plays a part also. The quicker you are with that response, the more effective it is at disarming the other person.
Miss Manners would recommend a shocked silence (because you're shocked at the speaker's faux pas), a raised eyebrow, perhaps Major Tom's riposte, another short silence, and then a change of subject. Pretend as if nothing had happened, you're ignoring the bad behavior in hopes that it'll just go away.

There are times when I try to do that and break up laughing. That might be just as effective.
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Old 04-07-2012, 02:41 PM   #12
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I never give a rats a$$ what other people say about me, within earshot or not. My character and reputation can stand up for themselves, and don't need any defense from me. However.....I'm also EXTREMELY outspoken, and I can think pretty darn quit on my feet too. If I do hear someone make some asinine remark about me or someone I'm well acquainted with, I will SELDOM allow the opportunity to pass without bluntly calling them out on it.

I'll ask them if they have any facts or proof to back their idiotic remarks, or if it's just another one of their usual feeble, sleazy attempts to try to make someone else look bad, so that they themselves can somehow feel or appear superior. At that point the moron will usually start stammering around, trying to figure out whether to respond or walk away. Before they recompose themselves, I reiterate my question! I can't recall a single time that they didn't just turn and cower away.

With that said though, there are times, as few as they may be, that I will not even acknowledge that a person made a comment about me or my compadres. It all depends on who is making the comment or remark. Some folks just ain't worth the effort!
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Recently, someone made a mean crack to me in others' hearing. I won't go into what the crack was, except that it was an inaccurate inference about my apparent financial status, and the supposed reason for it. (And no, it wasn't "you slept your way to the job.")

I was shocked and about all I could think of to say was, "You're wrong about that." This seemed inadequate, so I said nothing. [Added edit: To really respond, I would have had to go into personal things that were nobody's business]. Did I "lose"? Would the other people assume the commenter was "on to something there"?

Amethyst
The reality probably is that the wisecrack lost, because the statement probably further undermined their credibility.

How about "Anyone who would think that would be an idiot."
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Recently, someone made a mean crack to me in others' hearing. I won't go into what the crack was, except that it was an inaccurate inference about my apparent financial status, and the supposed reason for it. (And no, it wasn't "you slept your way to the job.")

I was shocked and about all I could think of to say was, "You're wrong about that." This seemed inadequate, so I said nothing. [Added edit: To really respond, I would have had to go into personal things that were nobody's business]. Did I "lose"? Would the other people assume the commenter was "on to something there"?

Amethyst
I try not to hang out with people who would do something like that, and being retired gives me a lot of flexibility as to who I hang out with. So, I haven't had anyone say anything like that to me in years.


Back in the day, when that happened to me I'd laugh and tell the person (loudly so that others could hear) to get real, and that with an imagination like that she should quit her job immediately and find work doing something more creative.


By contrast, my now-deceased mother would always say that one should say nothing under these circumstances and just take the higher road, as you did, Amethyst. She was better at dealing with people than I am and everyone adored her. I am guessing that her approach is probably better than mine in the long run. My approach kept me from sleepless nights while thinking "I should have said xyz!!".
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:27 PM   #15
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As for a snappy comeback, 99% of the time I can't think of one.
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I envy people who can think on their feet and seem to deal with these sort of remarks well every time. I usually think of the best response several hours later after several mental re-writes and discussions with friends.
I find it's handy to have a good general purpose response ready for dealing with issues like this. I find "Bite me!" covers a fairly sigificant portion of the situations.
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:36 PM   #16
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I find it's handy to have a good general purpose response ready for dealing with issues like this. I find "Bite me!" covers a fairly sigificant portion of the situations.
That, and a similar command used to get a lot of play on this board. I stayed out of it, but enjoyed it. As far as I know all those members who were expert at this and employed it frequently are "gone". It makes me think of college, where every other word was an expletive and insult all rolled into one. Even the girls did it constantly, to one another, not to us. They had to be careful what they said to us or they might not get invited back down for weekends.

"Those were the days my friends, I thought they'd never end..."

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Old 04-07-2012, 06:00 PM   #17
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Unfortunately, I think saying "bite me" would come back to bite me.

Thanks everyone, for confirming that I probably did the best I could by staying silent, and for suggesting some all-purpose rejoinders if it ever happens again. Here are the ones I would be most comfortable employing [not "the best" ones, because they're all good, just the ones that I personally could get away with]:
1) Burst out laughing, and make a getaway while others are trying to figure out if they missed something funny or that Amethyst has finally gone mad for real;
2) "Only the really intelligent people like you would think something like that" [this is quite apropos, because where I work, everyone thinks he or she is the smartest person in the world];
3) "Oh, really?" (skeptical raised eyebrow).

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Old 04-07-2012, 06:28 PM   #18
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In general it is better to take the high road. At any rate, avoid being dragged into an argument. One riposte that I have used, apart from "Oh really?" is "Whatever gave you that idea?". This forces the person to come right out with the evidence......which is often just a rumor.

Some years ago I had had an informal interview with another organization which came to nothing and I had forgotten all about it. Approximately two years later, one of my coworkers announced that I was leaving and going to X. My reaction: "Oh really? I didn't know that. Tell me all about it". He was forced to admit that it had all been speculation.
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Old 04-07-2012, 09:28 PM   #19
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Recently, someone made a mean crack to me in others' hearing. I won't go into what the crack was, except that it was an inaccurate inference about my apparent financial status, and the supposed reason for it. (And no, it wasn't "you slept your way to the job.")

I was shocked and about all I could think of to say was, "You're wrong about that." This seemed inadequate, so I said nothing. [Added edit: To really respond, I would have had to go into personal things that were nobody's business]. Did I "lose"? Would the other people assume the commenter was "on to something there"?

Amethyst, sometimes a response to remarks like this can only make the situation worse; however, by not answering in some fashion, people that heard the remark could assume it was true. I said sometimes. I for one could not keep my big mouth shut. I like a response that lets the party know you didn't appreciate the remark or the question and still lets you save face. Some good ones have been mentioned. I think it was Dear Abby that had a great answer to very personal questions. "If you'll forgive me for not answering your question I'll forgive you for asking". Maybe words like that could be turned around to fit your situation.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:11 PM   #20
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Amethyst...
When someone has a wise crack remark towards me, I usually cannot think of a wise crack answer back. And it's always the same people who do that kind of thing.

I see it most often at work. That's where you have a captive audience and you yourself are a captive. I think these wise crackers are a type of bully. It's best to stay away from them, keep them at arm's length, and keep them in the dark with any information, (work related or not).

When they say something rude...I sometimes look at them and start laughing. Mostly, I can't control or help it...it just happens. I sometimes have to walk away because I really start laughing hard. Laughter is contagious. I guess I have myself trained. I can laugh at just about anything...and that has been my way of defusing a situation with the poor fool. They can't do anything to hurt you, so see it for what it is. Remember...that fool is trying to control your feelings and you are really the one in control of your feelings.

Outside of work...I am more directly confrontational, usually "nip it in the bud".
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