Typically here on this site I get comments that are kind. Not all of them, of course, but for the most part people have been respectful even when leaving their differences of opinion. In truth, I adore conversations with different points of view. They fascinate me. Yet I believe that opinions can be voiced for the sake of conversation and done so without lingering animosity. Let’s call it agreeing to disagree, as they say.
Those harsh comments, whether here, on my Babble posts, or somewhere else all together, spark something inside of me. It is that twinge of insecurity that likely goes all the way back to childhood. Whether intended to incite debate, insult me personally, or just make the person with a dissenting point of view feel heard – they still generate the same spark. Often it lasts only momentarily as I respond (or not), and move on. Others… well, they linger.
I have been thinking a bit about how to have a thick skin when it comes to those remarks that are intended to hurt or at the very least, sting a bit. Many people say they can let such remarks roll off their backs, but how many people really do?
That was a rhetorical question, of course. There is no way to know how many people really are able to let those types of remarks slide without having any affect. What I do know is how I am going to continue to make sure that I go on undeterred by them. Here’s how to develop a thicker skin in 5 simple steps:
- Put it in perspective. Ask myself what I think this person’s intentions were based on her or his words. Were they meant to get to me? Did that person just want to be heard? Is it possible that person did not realize how the words came out? Why is this bothering me.
- Avoid over-thinking. If this is something that might normally bother me, I’ll let myself think about it for a set amount of time. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, half an hour. This gives me enough time to calm down, reflect, and figure out if there is anything I can learn from the situation. Once that half hour is up, that person may no longer take up space in my mind.
- Determine a response. First, it is important to determine whether this comment warrants a reply. If so, all responses should be carefully thought out to avoid sending a reply that can be unintentionally misinterpreted. (Trust me on this one. I know from experience.)
- When emotions are running high, sometimes no response is the smart response.
- More often than not, the other person simply wants an acknowledgment that he or she has been heard. In those cases a respectful reply is suitable.
- When an additional response is warranted, determine first why that is and what the intention will be in responding. Keep it simple and straightforward.
- Remember the rule. I may not like how someone stated their remark to you, but it does not mean that I need to respond in the same manner. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
- Stop second guessing. I wrote what I wrote, said what I said, or did whatever I did for a reason. And it was my reason. Another person’s interpretation of it is his or her own reality. In other words, the reason he or she got upset enough to say something is their own reason. Perhaps I can learn something from the comment, but I will certainly not let it make me second guess myself. And I will try hard to remember that the world does not revolve around either one of us.
Do you have a thick skin? If so, what is your trick to letting hurtful comments roll off your back?