Don't Give Others Insult Power

If you take offense easily, you're an easy mark for manipulators.

Be uninsultableWhen you’re easily triggered, you’re a sitting duck for anyone having a bad day.  

All it takes is a few choice words. Your buttons are pushed and you're off to the Land of the Grumps.  Or worse, the Land of the Obviously Unreasonable.

Why give other people that kind of power over you?

Be Un-Insultable

You have no control over the behavior of others.  You probably can't stop them from being annoying.  But you can remove your "Insult" button from easy public access.  Be un-insultable.  

It’s much easier said than done, of course. But it’s a choice you can make and with practice achieve.

Un-Insultability in Practice

It even works with kids - if you can remember to do it. After starting this piece one night, I made supper for my twins, 8 years old at the time.  When my dinner prep was complete, I called the boys. But rather than devour what I’d prepared, the usual fare that I knew they liked, they moaned about what I’d made and loudly declared they weren’t going to eat it.

“Well, that’s what we have tonight,” I said as evenly as I could.  They promptly announced that they weren’t going to eat it and walked out of the kitchen, partners in revolt

Spoiled brats! I thought. This is not acceptable behavior! I paused for a few seconds, brimming with righteous anger, to think about how to deliver the message with greatest impact.

In the pause I remembered what I’d just been writing about. And had to smile.  A few minutes ago I was writing praise for being un-insultable.  Here I stood now, undeniably stoked with offense.  By eight year olds!

So what would it look like, I wondered, if I refused to be insulted and angry?

"That's what the cook made for supper," my dad used to say when I complained about food as a child.  I wasn't about to renege on that time-tested principle now.  Worked for him, why not for me?  But then I remembered that my dad kept a yardstick above the cupboard.  It didn't hurt much the threat of it was nevertheless a powerful incentive.  We'd chosen to abandon that tactic from my parents' generation.   

So what now?  I decided I could still apply my dad's principle.  There was no reason not to enjoy my own supper and no reason I had to be offended because the boys wouldn't eat what I'd made.  If they chose not to eat, that's on them.

I set aside their food and proceeded with preparations for myself.   I coaxed myself into a song as I worked.  As I was about to sit down and eat, a young dinner-denier wandered back into the kitchen. “Oh, well, maybe I'll just eat what you made,” he said breezily.

Two minutes later, his brother joined him. As if the earlier exchange had never happened, the two proceeded - without a murmur of complaint - to devour the meal they’d just vowed never to eat.

OK, it's not always that easy!  If you're starting out on this idea of being uninsultable, pick an easy battle for testing it.  This takes practice!

For more on being un-insultable, see this video by Roger Reece, the trainer and consultant who coined the term. He’s a good presenter and you’ll learn a lot in the 4 minute clip.

Take a Conflict Style Inventory - Thomas Kilmann or Style Matters

No matter how good you get at being un-insultable, there will still be times when you need to actively challenge others.  A conflict style inventory such as the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument or the Style Matters conflict style inventory is a quick way to get a snapshot of your instincts in conflict and a framework to analyze your choices.

Watch for future blogs with more concepts to help get your attitude where you want it to be.