The best defense to an insult is a greater insult, but not back to the person who slighted you, but to yourself.
The inherent problem with an insult is that often we don’t know if it’s meant as a joke in poor taste, a true put down wrapped in a joke for the passive aggressive or a true ugly slight. Before I figured out how to deal with these, I found myself in no-win situations. If it was meant as a joke and I over reacted, I would come across as an insecure jerk. If the put down was wrapped in a joke and I called the person on it, they would quickly remind me “I’m just kidding. Where’s your sense of humor?” And if it was meant as insult, it was most likely there to bait me into an argument or a fight at the wrong place and time.
Years ago I decided on a different approach: taking the insult a step further. It has worked well. The approach makes me come across self-deprecating and humorous. It usually says, “hey you think you can insult me? I can do it better than you. Watch this.” Here’s a couple of come backs I have used in the past.
Unfriendly negotiator: “I don’t think you’re worth that much money.”
Me neither, but for some reason crazy reason people are willing to pay it.
Guy at the gym: “It takes you longer to get ready than most women.”
I know. If I looked half as good as you I could do it much faster.
Usually there’s no come back when you take their put down and turn it up a notch. I find that for those watching the exchange, you’ll come across endearing and funny while the other person not so much.
How do you deal with insults?