Mar 142013 9 Responses

A Comprehensive Guide to Dealing with Offensive People

Offensive people are all around. They work in the cubicle next to us. They dominate our Facebook newsfeed. They coach our child’s rival t-ball team.

Every day we are forced to interact with people who knowingly or unknowingly are offensive.

Here is a comprehensive plan to deal with offensive people:

Step 1–-choose not to be offended.

That’s it. Choose not to be offended.

One of the greatest misconceptions we have about other people is the belief that they have the power to offend us. They don’t. Other people do not offend us; we choose to get offended.

Many times we have a right to be offended, but it is our choice nonetheless. And we make that choice far too often. (See: Reject the Role of Victim)

Most of what offends us, shouldn’t. Much of what makes our blood boil, what divides relationships, and what irritates us, shouldn’t. What should be minor situations which are overlooked, often become the most memorable aspect of our day.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of choosing to be offended, we can have empathy, understanding, and compassion for others. Just as we appreciate others being understanding with our failed attempts at communication, we can be understanding with others.

Here are several ways to prevent being offended:

Give the benefit of the doubt. Whenever someone says something offensive, consider scenarios in which their words or actions aren’t offensive. Most people do not willfully attempt to be offensive. Their words might come across in a way in which they did not intend. We should try to understand their intent. Assume they weren’t trying to offend.

Understand we all make mistakes. Even if we have a right to be offended by someone, remembering a time in which we were offensive should give us compassion for others. Seeing the words or actions of another as a mistake prevents us taking great offense.

See their offense as their problem. When a person is repetitively offensive we should see their behavior as their problem instead of taking it personally. We can remind ourselves their behavior has nothing to do with us. Whether we are present or not, the person would be offensive. They either have the inability to change or have chosen not to change. Either way, the problem is theirs and has nothing to do with us.

Define your own emotions. No matter the situation, make sure your emotions are defined by you and not by others. You choose how you feel. Do not give the authority over your emotions to another person. Make your own choices. (See: You Hurt My Feelings)

We live in a day where many people are looking to be offended. They seek out offense and proudly announce how they have been victimized. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The easiest way to deal with offensive people is to simply choose not to be offended so easily.

The other person probably didn’t mean to be offensive. Even if they did, how many times have we been offensive? Even if they are much more offensive than we have ever been, it is their problem. And no matter what their problem is, I’m in charge of my own emotions and life.

Make people work hard if they want to offend you. 

Try it today. Every time you are tempted to be offended, choose not to be and see what happens.

9 Responses to A Comprehensive Guide to Dealing with Offensive People
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