Stop Put-Down Behaviour
How To Be More Assertive: Part 11
When someone puts you down, a natural response is to want to exact revenge - to get your own back - or to defend yourself.
In fact, when someone puts you down, defending yourself usually has the opposite effect: it has a negative impact on both you and the other person.
The origin of put-downs is an insecurity in the other person: they want to make themselves feel good by making you look bad. This relies on you responding in a way that makes them feel good, and you going 'on the defensive' does just that. Put-downs rely on a reaction from you.
Your main aims, when responding to put downs,are usually:
- To stop the put down behaviour
- To do so in a way that maintains your own self respect
Here is a recommended strategy for dealing with put downs:
- In the first instance, IGNORE IT. In many cases the person may try a few times to put you down but, once it becomes obvious there will be no reaction, will stop. Other people will respect you for it (for being 'mature enough' to ignore it). NB: Don't let yourself 'feel bad' (such reactions reward the put-down behaviour). Think: 'I'll rise above it. Put downs say much more about the person saying it than the person the comments are directed towards).
- If you feel the need to deal with a put-down, do so with humour. Don't treat it seriously, make a joke out of it - but don't make the other person the butt of the joke. Eg: "I'm addicted to those typos, you know. I keep writing perfect reports and then just slipping those typos in, just to let people know I'm human!"
- If those don't work, then use "negative assertion" (see next article).
It follows that you should never use put-down behaviour yourself. If you feel the urge to do so, then you'll need to learn to value yourself more, so that you can overcome the insecurity that drives such behaviour.
How To Be More Assertive:
Part 12: Texbook Techniques