Elizabeth Mangini Nord’s guest post about how we as parents cope with catty comments gave me much food for thought. I tend to take virtually all comments seriously and respond that way. She offers another approach that I’m going to try. She blogs at Secrets of Moms Who Dare to Tell All .
When my oldest daughter, Bella, was seven, she said, “You know mom, I know that if someone is smiling and laughing when they say something they are not always being nice or funny. Sometimes they are being mean. They are trying to cover up what they are really doing by saying, ‘Just joking’ and laughing.”
Some people think that when they say, “Just joking” after making a rude comment, that’s their “get out of jail free card.” They are wrong.
I think it’s pretty obvious when someone makes a joke and they are actually just joking and having fun. There is mutual banter. That’s funny, silly, and harmless. But, we’ve all come across those women or men who pretend to be nice and then slam you. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s obvious, but either way their jokes are not funny. They may think they are coming across as witty by trying to bring you down and they may think they are getting away with being rude too, but really they are hurting themselves, their reputation, and their relationships in the end.
I don’t take mean people too serious anymore. I kind of feel sad and sorry for them. They probably have issues that are causing them to use people as their personal verbal punching bag: it could be low self-esteem, jealousy, insecurities, passive aggressive tendencies, anger management problems, lack of self-worth, or they are just plain mean, etc. I also think the instigator doesn’t realize that they actually make themselves look ugly when they engage in such behavior.
It’s important to realize that it’s not really about you (the person being poked fun at), and not take the comments too personal. Sometimes that’s hard to do.
So how do you deal with these types of people and situations?
Someone I know said that a good response to the perpetrator would be, “That might hurt my feelings if I cared what you thought.”
I have actually thought that a few times when someone has made a snide remark towards me and it makes me smile, but I don’t want to say that aloud because I think it sort of brings me down to their level.
I have also been so shocked by someone’s rudeness that I don’t say a thing. I think of everything I wish I would have said after the fact. That was annoying when I used to react that way, but I seem to be handling myself better these days.
I have told people what my daughter said above about people pretending to be nice when they make their “just joking” remark. One woman’s face drained of color. I didn’t say it meanly—just in a matter-of-fact way. It’s true. She hasn’t made a rude comment to me since.
I imagine that if it does happen to me again, I will definitely say something. I will also know that person is not someone who is interested in lifting people up, and I’m not interested in hanging out with people like that. Life is too short and there are many very kind people out there who I’d rather spend my time with.
There are times when someone makes a joke about you that is actually funny. If you listen to your intuition, I think you can tell the difference between innocent silly humor and bitchiness.
This is funny…
Last year, my daughter was asking for a mannequin for Christmas. I searched high and low everywhere on-line. They were hundreds of dollars and that seemed ridiculously expensive to me. After weeks of searching on-line, I went to our local fabric store to see if they could help me locate an inexpensive mannequin. I told the sales woman who it was for (my nine-year-old daughter), and asked if she knew where I could find a mannequin that wasn’t so expensive. She was very nice and friendly.
She said, “Well, since she’s nine, you could get her a child dress form instead of an adult mannequin. They are much cheaper. You can get her an adult mannequin later when her body develops more if she’s still serious about sewing. She doesn’t need a mannequin with a bust right now.”
She paused for a moment while she looked at my chest and said, “You know, she probably won’t ever need an adult mannequin.”
The sales woman and I locked eyes.
(It is usually at this point when I tell this story that my friends gasp and say, “How rude!”)
But, I burst into laughter in that fabric store because I could tell without a doubt that it was an innocent comment and it was really funny. She was just trying to be helpful.
She turned beet red and started apologizing straight away. I assured her that I was not offended and that I thought it was funny.
Accidental humor makes me laugh along with witty intelligent humor that is not intended to belittle someone.
There are plenty of ways to be humorous without putting someone down. There are plenty of ways to be funny without being rude or offensive. I vote yes to kindness!
The way we handle our adult relationships is the most direct teaching our daughters get from us about how to handle their relationships. Are we showing her the same things we’re telling her?
How do you handle mean comments from other adults?