Handling Comments

People may direct comments towards you or you may overhear people making remarks about you. These remarks might be thoughtless and tactless, rather than deliberately rude (but still offensive or upsetting for you). At time, comments may be deliberately said for you to hear or people may make rude remarks to your face. This can be very insulting and hurtful. It might make you upset or cross – and you might feel like crying or being angry or rude back to them.

So… what can you do to manage comments?

Walk away

If the comment seems to be a direct confrontation, it may be best just to walk away, particularly if you feel threatened or concerned. This can be powerful in itself – as it is telling the other person you are not going to bother to respond to their bad behaviour and they are not worth your time.

To put this in another way, if someone can be so unkind to make unpleasant comments to someone based on their appearance, there is little that can be said to change them. Walking away is the best response; it takes away their power to hurt you. You might still feel very upset or angry, and that’s natural – you might want to try talking to a friend or someone you trust to get support and offload your feelings.

When people made horrible comments to me about my eyes I would ignore them, I just thought, if they are cruel enough to make comments like this, they aren’t going to take any notice of what I have got to say and they don’t deserve my energy. I also didn’t want them to know they were bothering me so I just carried on with what I was doing. Afterwards if I was angry I would ring my mum or a friend and tell them how angry I was and what I really wanted to say to them! This helped me let out how I felt about it. Sometimes I would just forget about the comment, other times it might bother me for a while, but eventually I would forget about it. Now I just feel sorry for people who are so unkind they have to make these horrible comments, and I refuse to give their comments any thought. It has taken me a long time to get to this point but now I can just ignore comments and they don’t upset me

Kerry

Plan a response

You can respond to comments using your body language. The aim is to let people know that you are aware of the comment and that you don’t like it:

  • Give the person a firm look for around 1 second and look away again
  • Look at the person and hold their gaze whilst raising your eyebrows to show you have heard their comment
  • Look and frown to tell them you are not happy.

You may feel assertive and safe enough to respond with a reply that disarms or makes the person aware they have been hurtful to stop them doing so in the future.

  • ‘I don’t think it is very nice to say things about someone’s appearance, I doubt you would like it’
  • ‘I heard what you said about my appearance, and I wanted you to know. It feels like the way I look is a problem for you which is sad, I don’t have a problem with it’

Remember

It can be very tempting to respond in an angry way. This is understandable, but is unlikely to help the situation.

Try not to let the person see that you are upset or angry. They may even be trying to get a reaction from you and the best thing is not to react.

Trying to disarm and diffuse the situation is more likely to work – by making the person aware that you heard them and how that made you feel. This shows you as a strong and resilient person and that the comments are not going to get to you.

It may not feel fair, this person has been really unkind to you and you might want to tell them exactly what you think of them! By responding in an angry way, the other person may become defensive and say more unkind things. It is best to find another way to manage the anger you are feeling, speak to family or friends, or write it down. Maybe write down what you wanted to say.

Reassure yourself

When people make comments it can be really upsetting. Sometimes it may be helpful to use reassuring self-talk. Try saying some of these phrases to yourself;

“This comment is their problem, not mine.”

“I value people who are friendly and kind, by making these comments this person isn’t so I don’t need to place any value to what they think of me”

“I would never be rude enough to say something like that to someone, this person obviously isn’t worth me getting upset over “

“I am ok, I don’t need to judge myself based on this person’s unkind comment”

“There is more to me than how I look”

“The people who know me would never think or say things like this to me”

Preparing responses to comments. Try the exercises below:

You are at the cinema.  You see your friends waiting by the ticket office. You wave and begin to walk towards them.  As you do so, you overhear someone else make a remark about your appearance to the person standing next to them. What might you do and say? Try to think of three kinds of answer, varying your reaction.

Think of a quietly confident, but simple response. What would you do? What would you say?

Now think of a slightly firmer response. What would you do? What would you say?

Finally, think of an assertive and firm response. What would you do? What would you say?

Although the first simple response may be more comfortable, having a few assertive and firm responses up your sleeve may help you to feel more confident. You might want to add some others more firm responses to your list.

Now, write down four positive things you might say to reassure yourself in this situation.

You might like to think of other situations, perhaps relating to circumstances you have found yourself in – and repeat the exercise above.

Although this might feel unnatural at first, people can find it really helpful and calming to have thought through their responses beforehand.

You are at the cinema.  You see your friends waiting by the ticket office. You wave and begin to walk towards them.  As you do so, you overhear someone else make a remark about your appearance to the person standing next to them. What might you do and say? Try to think of three kinds of answer, varying your reaction.

A quietly confident, but simple response:

I would do: 

I would say: 

A slightly firmer response: 

I would do: 

I would say: 

An assertive and very firm response:  

I would do: 

I would say: 

 

Although the first simple response may be more comfortable, having a few assertive and firm responses up your sleeve may help you to feel more confident:  Write down two more firm responses:

  1.

  2.

Write down four positive things you might say to reassure yourself:

  1.

  2.

  3.

  4.

Handling questions

Read

Handling staring

Read

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