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
  1. sheila blair Reply

    Just what I needed today Kevin. Keep on blogging.

    • Kevin Reply

      Thank you Shelia.

  2. Gregory Kuhn Reply

    Kevin, I liked this one. Also, it dealt with some things going on at work right now. I shared it around the office too!

  3. Christine Reply

    Does that include offensive foul language? How do you deal with that?

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  6. Mary Reply

    This is great and very empowering.
    For me it separates out the emotions in a situation.
    I usually don’t take offense because I find often people who hold offensive views ( say racist, homophobic, religious zealots, whatever) behave quite the opposite on a one to one basis. So I would add that we can wait until we see the behavior/experience the person’s actions before we pass any heed on their words. It is hard though, and even harder when the offensiveness is coming from someone you love and want to change ( impossible )….

    One other thing I would add – if someone is behaving offensively, leave the situation. We do not have to accept offensive behavior no more than we have to tolerate offensive words. Leaving the situation is a very powerful thing to do. If the offensive person cares and asks why, we have an opportunity to share our truth.

  7. Patty R. Reply

    What do you do if it is a relative(my sister) and she is forever trying to destroy my reputation with my mother. I know she is jealous of my mother and my relationship but she is vicious about anything I say and do. Mom and I are buying a home together because I was originally going to sell my house and move in with my mom to help her in her very golden years (we live across the street from one another now). My sister and brother asked my mom, how they would be able to kick me out of the house when something happened to Mom (nice people aren’t they?) The house would still be in Mom’s name alone, so I would have had to sell it per Mom’s will. This was the final straw for Mom after all the put downs they have been hitting her with about me. My brother lives up north and was just being fed information from my sister and nephew and he was getting pretty nasty also. She decided she was going to buy another house with me and if anything happened to her I get the house automatically. The escalation of hate grew for a while but now my mother refuses to listen to their put downs of me any more. They thought mom was paying for my schooling and ability to stay at home to complete my education. I have many loans I need to pay off with the sale of my home. They don’t ask questions, they just make assumptions and it gets old quickly. I really don’t want to have to explain myself all the time either. My mom and I have been best friends for a long time. She had cancer and I helped her through it. My daughter was diagnosed with cancer when she was 5 yrs. old. She had a paraneoplastic syndrome which acted like ALS. She ended up a quadriplegic, was trached, on a ventilator, had a feeding tube, and ostomy. I was her full time caregiver for 17 yrs. She still sang solos at church and had a wonderful spirit. She went home to be with The Lord when she was 22 yrs. old. My mom and I got even closer during that period and she just adored my daughter. I started school shortly after, Krystal, was called home. I drive my mom to all of her appointments, take her to the hospital if necessary, make and eat dinner with her, etc. This offensive and very nasty behavior does get old though.

  8. Nathanael Peter Reply

    this is really interesting, i think, i have to draft out some point here to tackle these whole bonged of offensive people in my office.
    Thanks Mr. Kevin A Thompson

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