When someone is being disrespectful towards us, it can be a blow to our self-esteem; it isn’t a great feeling.
Whether it’s from a rude comment or a dismissive attitude, these behaviors leave a bad taste in our mouths.
It also leaves us wondering: What exactly is the right way to respond to this?
It’s easy to lash back at them, to fight fire with fire.
But where will that really get you?
In no better place than them.
Instead, realize that showing kindness and respect is never a wrong course of action, especially with dealing with these types of people.
So here are 12 more ways to help you deal with people that don’t respect you.
1. Try Not To Take It Personally
You’re in conversation with someone and they say something that you found offensive.
Before you call them out for it and crucify them in public, try to take a step back first.
Maybe they’re an older person and they aren’t aware that some of the terms from the previous generation are now largely considered outdated and offensive.
This is your chance to educate them and teach them better.
It’s going to take practice before you learn not to take these comments to heart.
But once you’re able to do so, you’ll be better able to bring it up to them later on.
Also, try to not let negative comments about yourself get to you. If someone says something rude about you, remember that says more about them than it does about you.
In fact, research by a Wake Forest University psychology professor found that what people say about others reveals a lot about who they are.
“A huge suite of negative personality traits are associated with viewing others negatively”.
So if you take these results to heart, there is literally no point in taking things personally.
What people say about you clearly says more about themselves than anything to do with you.
2. Think Before You Say Something To Them
When someone disrespects you, your reflex might be to lash back at them.
Doesn’t it just feel so good when you have the perfect comeback for someone who’s making fun of you?
While it is a thrill in the moment, it could just make the situation worse.
That’s why before you hit them back with a fiery rebuttal, try to hold yourself back. Pause. Ask yourself what are your options as a reply and what would be the consequences of each response.
It might even stop the fight before it had the chance of even starting.
3. Get Advice Specific To Your Situation
While this article explores the main ways to deal with someone who doesn’t respect you, it can be helpful to speak to a relationship coach about your situation.
With a professional relationship coach, you can get advice specific to your life and your experiences…
Relationship Hero is a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult situations, like when someone doesn’t respect them. They’re a very popular resource for people facing this sort of challenge.
How do I know?
Well, I reached out to them a few months ago when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.
In just a few minutes, you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
4. Ask Yourself If It’s Even Worth It To Respond
There are some fights that are just not worth fighting.
Say you launch a killer comeback at them.
They might get even more hurt.
Then a full on fight erupts: you’re calling each other names, screaming at the tops of your lungs, almost getting physical at some points.
What were you looking to achieve there?
You might’ve come out on top but now you’ve lost a relationship, you’re both hurt, and no one’s a better person.
As MIT negotiation professor John Richardson says: never start with, “How do I make this deal?” Start with, “Should this deal be made?” With disrespectful and toxic individuals, the answer is usually no. It’s not worth it.
And anyway, in the bigger picture of everything, is it even worth getting so worked up about what someone said about you?
Wouldn’t it have been an option for you to simply ignore what they’re saying or brush it off, and not let your ego become so involved?
5. Confront Them About It
When you choose to confront them about their behavior, you give them space to explain their side.
Remember to be kind and respectful when you’re talking to them about it.
Ask them if they have a problem with you, why they acted that way, what you can do to help them in the future to avoid something like that from happening again.
You don’t have to be aggressive when you confront them.
You can ask them for a word and walk off to the side for a few minutes to discuss your feelings.
You need to express your feelings to them to help them understand why you felt offended and disrespected.
6. Understand Where They’re Coming From
A possible reason why they acted that way is that they have personal problems of their own and they’re releasing their anger and frustration at other people instead.
Confronting them is the perfect time to lend them your ear, to make them truly feel heard, to allow them to express their emotions in a healthy way.
Try to empathize with their situation and forgive them for what they’ve done. You might even walk away with a new friend.
Christopher Bergland on Psychology Today shares some excellent advice:
“Don’t take rudeness personally; maybe the person is just having a bad day and taking it out on the world. Often you can break the cycle of rudeness by empathizing with the root of someone’s cantankerous behavior as a sign that he or she is unhappy, and be kind.”
7. Set Boundaries With Them
Often someone comes off as offensive and disrespectful because they don’t know better.
They don’t understand that what they’re saying is actually offensive and disrespectful to you.
If that’s the case, then it’s important to set boundaries with them. Let them know what you will and won’t tolerate in your relationship.
I learned about this when I watched the free Love and Intimacy video. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t taught how to approach relationships in a healthy way.
That’s why we allow disrespect – we simply don’t know how to manage someone who disrespects us (without simply cutting them out of our lives).
So if you want to work on the relationship you have with this person rather than just get rid of them, I’d highly suggest checking out the free video.
Not only will you learn about yourself, but you’ll learn how to cultivate better relationships with others.
8. Respond With Kindness
A mature response would be to continue showing them kindness and respect.
When someone calls you names, you can laugh and just brush it off.
You always have the choice about how to respond to the situation.
If you respond with kindness, you are encouraging the kind of behavior that you want to see more of.
This won’t always be easy, however.
Just know that by doing this, you are becoming your own role model, and setting an example for others for how they should act when someone disrespects them too.
Remember, it’s important to never stoop to a disrespectful person’s level.
Psychologist F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. puts it well:
“We can’t stop all of the rude people in the world. But we can try to maintain our own sense of what is right and wrong, despite their apparent success at ignoring the rules.”
9. Ask Others For Help
When it’s beginning to be too much for you to handle, don’t be afraid of reaching out to others for help.
Talk to your family and friends about how this person makes you feel and ask them what you can possibly do about it.
It can be hurtful when someone disrespects us, and we need somewhere to express our pain and sadness.
Try not to bottle it up inside or else it will fester into a nasty attitude.
Soon enough you’ll be disrespecting others in an attempt to cover up your own pain.
Asking for others isn’t a sign of weakness.
Even armies ask for reinforcements.
Sometimes you really do need guidance for what you need to do next or how to respond to them in a kind and respectful way.
10. Walk Away From The Situation
If someone is constantly disrespecting you and you aren’t sure why, you can simply leave.
You, as a human being with dignity, don’t need to be spending time with people that don’t respect you.
There should be nothing stopping you from simply getting up and leaving.
Walking away tells the other person that you aren’t there to put up with their B.S.; you respect yourself too much to just sit there and take it.
11. Don’t Try To Change Them
It’s easy to feel like you know what’s best for the person when they open up to you about the problems about why they treat you that way.
Maybe it’s because of their abusive upbringing and violent surroundings that they were nurtured in.
Be that as it may, it still isn’t your responsibility to volunteer to change them.
You can certainly guide them to help them know what are better ways to act, but you can’t force them to be “nice” when it’s been naturally beaten out of them.
You need to respect their abilities and limits.
When you try to push them to become someone they aren’t, you become the disrespectful one between the two of you.
You can learn to be close to them, but you should always keep a respectful distance.
It’s an impossible situation and you can bet that it’s one that you cannot improve.
And if they’re a narcissist or toxic individual, trying to fix them won’t be successful anyway, according to Elizabeth Scott, MS in Very Well Mind:
“Do not try to change them and don’t expect them to change or you will be disappointed.”
12. Avoid Being With People That Don’t Respect You
The company you keep is as important as who you are and what you do.
When you spend most of your time with people that call you names and bring you down, it can hinder your growth as a person.
If it was your dream to be an artist and you showed them a painting and they made fun of it, it might just discourage you from pursuing your passions.
Life is short. We aren’t given enough time to spend on people that don’t treat us with respect and decency.
Even if they’re your closest friends, if they’ve constantly been harassing you and treating you poorly, you’re better off without them.
Find new people to be with.
There are communities of others who are just like you – looking for people to tell them they’re doing a good job and should keep going.
At the end of the day, everyone deserves to be shown decency and respect – even those that don’t show it.
People that disrespect you might actually be harboring feelings of jealousy over you, and a way for them to cover that is by being mean and bullying you.
Another possible reason why they might be intentionally disrespectful towards you is that maybe you did something to them in the past that hurt them but you just didn’t realize it.
In any case, it’s always important to treat them with civility and hash it out.
Talk through your problems with them like mature adults.
Try to understand their side of the argument, take responsibility for your actions, and apologize for your mistakes.
In the bigger picture of things, these are petty fights to be having. Time would be better used by working together towards something of value to others.