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How to Handle a Work Insult

You know what this is – it’s not a direct hit, but it burns. Like wasabi.

Here are a few examples:

“That would never happen to me.”

“I almost accepted your role, but I’m way too busy.”

“You don’t look stressed, why don’t you take this on.”

“You actually choose to do this? For what?”

“It must be easy to get promoted around here.”


When we hear these words we know what we should do. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Leave the negativity behind us when we exit the parking lot. Try to not let the words roll over and over and over in our heads.

But the words were said and we have to figure out how to handle them. As you read this, please know I’m not implying that you shouldn’t defend yourself. I’m not suggesting that this will make you feel better immediately. YOU have to decide what feels good for you, your professional relationships, and your career.

Here’s what’s worked for me:

1. Ask someone for their advice. Probably NOT my BFF who I know will have my back. Instead, I’ll ask someone who I know will be neutral and help me take my boxing gloves off.

2. Try to think of their perspective. The key word is TRY. Sometimes I write down 3 potential reasons why they said it. People are usually thinking of themselves, right? Sometimes people have no filter. Sometimes people jab at others with their words, intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes people have such little self-love that this is the only thing that makes them feel better. So they let these thoughts fly out of their mouth. Yes, they should be thinking of how that would make others feel. But they probably don’t have the self-awareness around this. Which brings me to…

3. What do I value? Is this thing really important to me? Am I proud of the promotion/role/job/writing the reports/creating the schedule/[insert here]? Is it helping me reach my goals? If the answer is yes, then one person’s comment is definitely not going to get in the way of that.

4. Preparing for next time. Yes, we build thicker skin as the years go by. We also build larger storage banks of professional comebacks. My personal favorite: “Thanks for sharing.” Usually that stops anyone from saying more. If you are with a repeat offender or if someone won’t let up, then add, “This is actually really important to me and I could really use some people who want to support me right now.”

I keep boxing gloves in my basement and sometimes I use them for stress relief. It helps me let go of negative words from people who don’t really know me. Sometimes.

How do you handle these remarks?

Until next week,



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