Expert Reviewed

How to Ignore Insults

When you are insulted by someone, you might feel embarrassed, hurt, or frustrated. Whether this person is your boss or a parent, the insults can really be damaging. Accepting their mean comment or responding aggressively can often make matters worse. Ignoring hateful comments is often the best route, but you might be struggling with how to do it. Tune out the haters by overlooking the insult, crafting a clever response, and finding ways to end the negativity.

Method One of Three:
Being Unbothered
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  1. 1
    Tune the insults out by daydreaming. When people begin to insult you, let your mind take you to another place. Start thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner later or the last vacation. Once you refocus on the actual conversation, you’ll feel more positive.
  2. 2
    Step away for a moment. For the insults that you can’t ignore, step away from the situation. You don’t have to sit around and be insulted by someone if you don’t want to. If you feel that walking away is too rude, say that you have to go to the bathroom.[1]
    • If a boss or parent is insulting you, walking away from them might not be the best choice. Stick it out and ask them what they would like you to do.
  3. 3
    Put in headphones. To tune someone out, listen to music or watch a show on your phone or tablet. The noise coming through the headphones will drown out any insults you might have heard.
    • This will work particularly well if you are on the bus or walking somewhere.
  4. 4
    Engage in another activity. Check off something on your to-do list. Is your sister being a little frustrating? Begin washing the dishes. Is a kid in your class being rude? Pull out the book that you need to finish for class. If you show that you aren’t listening, they may stop with their mean comments.[2]
  5. 5
    Pretend that you didn’t hear the insult. Even if you can’t tune them out, just pretend like you never even heard what they said. If they ask you if you heard them, tell them that you didn’t. If they try to bring the insult up again, say “When did you say that? I didn’t hear you.”[3]
  6. 6
    Don’t respond to insults online. If someone is being mean to you on social media, delete their comments. Don’t keep rereading them, but instead block their messages or unfriend them. Put your phone or laptop down and take a break. Call up a friend to vent or talk to your mom about what’s going on.[4]
  7. 7
    Remain calm. Above all, avoid getting emotional. Once you show emotion, they will know that they got to you and the insults may get worse. Keep your voice down, try not to cry, and take a few deep breaths. If you feel that you can’t remain calm, step away until you feel more settled.[5]
  8. 8
    Practice self-care. Being insulted can be really tough on your emotional and mental health. Take some time each day to take care of you. Take care of your physical health by going for a run and eating nutritious foods. Take care of your mental health through meditation or joining a spiritual community.[6]
    • Plan relaxing things to do each day like taking a hot bath or watching your favorite show.
  9. 9
    Reframe the insult. Even if you’re able to shrug it off in the moment, your brain may have subconsciously soaked up the mean comment and let it stew. If you don’t address the insult internally, it may lead to negative thoughts later on. Take away the power of the insult by coming up with a positive or even funny response, even if you only say it to yourself.
    • For example, if someone insults your clothes, reframe it by asking yourself how much that person’s opinion is actually worth. They’re not a fashion expert, so their judgment doesn’t really matter. If fashion isn’t that important to you anyways, say to yourself, “Hey, at least I’m not wearing pajamas today!”
  10. 10
    Create a list of compliments people have given you. In order to combat the negativity this bully brings to you, keep a list of nice things about yourself. Did someone recently compliment you on your haircut? Put that on the list. Often get told that you are good at math? List that, too.[7]
    • Keep this list on the notes section in your phone and read it to brighten your mood when you’re being insulted.
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Method Two of Three:
Seeking Solutions
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  1. 1
    Avoid the person who insults you. Is this person someone that you have to see? If not, avoid them! Take an alternate route to class in the mornings. Avoid sitting near them during lunch. Do whatever you can, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience you, to stay away from them.[8]
    • If you can’t avoid them, either ignore them, talk to them, or report them for their behavior.
  2. 2
    Enlist the help of a friend to intervene. If you know you have to be around an insulting person, find a friend to come with you. Tell them a little bit about what’s going on and ask them to have your back in case things get negative.[9]
    • Say “Do you remember me telling you about Tasha? Well, she’s coming to the party tomorrow night. Can you come with me and have my back? I don’t want to face her alone.”
  3. 3
    Address the issue directly if they are affecting your life drastically. Though ignoring the problem might work well, sometimes a bully needs direct confrontation to stop the insults. Pull them aside to have a talk in private. Let them know that you want the negativity to stop.[10]
    • Say “Thanks for agreeing to talk to me. I’ve noticed that in meetings, you insult my work a lot. Though I appreciate constructive feedback, your comments today were not helpful. Can you try to be more positive? If not, please don’t critique my projects.”
  4. 4
    Keep your social media private. Avoid random creeps commenting on your posts and pictures by only friending people you know. Make your pages private so that others cannot access your information.[11]
  5. 5
    Report the person if they are harassing you. If the person continues to harass you even when you are doing nothing to them, report them. If you feel anxious about going to work or school because of them, tell a teacher, supervisor, or other authority figure. Make a report through your school or via the Human Resources department at your job.
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Method Three of Three:
Responding in Clever Ways
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  1. 1
    Laugh at the insult. Instead of becoming visibly upset to being insulted, let out a small laugh instead. This will signal to the insulter that their words don’t intimidate you. Your laugh also shows that you don’t take their comment seriously.[12]
    • Avoid laughing if your boss or parents insult you. Instead say “Why do you feel that way?” or “What can I do better?”
  2. 2
    Change the subject. If you feel an insult coming, switch the topic of conversation. Bring up the latest music, movies, or TV shows. Talk about news stories or the new assignment you got at work.[13]
    • Say something like “Oh I forgot to tell you! I watched Game of Thrones the other day for the first time! I really liked it; I remember you said you liked it, too.”
  3. 3
    Make a joke out of the situation. Laughter can help ease even the most tense moments. If someone insults you, find a way to make the situation funny. You do not need to insult them back to do this. Laughter can also help brighten your mood.[14]
    • For instance, if they tease you about your glasses, make a comment like “Johnny, I’ve had glasses for seven years. Are you just now noticing? Maybe you need to borrow mine!”
  4. 4
    Accept the insult and move on. If you prefer not to walk away or joke about the insult, just accept it and move on. Make your response short and quick so that they understand that you will not engage. Simply say “Okay” or “Thank you for that” in response to them.[15]
  5. 5
    Compliment them. Another way to quickly shut down the insulter is to say something nice to them. This will throw them off because it is completely unexpected. Try to make the compliment somehow related to the insult that they gave you.[16]
    • For instance, if they insult your shoes, you can say “I really like your shoes. They’re cool. Where’d you get them?” and smile.
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Community Q&A

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  • A boy on my bus is bullying me. How do I deal with him?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Just try to not listen to him. If you don't react, the person who is bullying will often stop. But if it doesn't stop, then tell an adult.
    Thanks! 232 62
  • What if the person who insults you talks behind your back and is your FRIEND!?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Talk to them about how they're hurting you. Say "As my friend, it hurts me when you make comments like that. I really want us to have a strong friendship that's not so negative."
    Thanks! 77 23
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Expert Review By:

TG
Licensed Professional Counselor

This version of How to Ignore Insults was reviewed by Trudi Griffin, LPC on August 18, 2017.

176 votes - 84%
Co-authors: 72
Updated:
Views: 490,622
Categories: Dealing with Bullying

Reader Success Stories

  • TA

    Tanaz Anjum

    May 4

    "Being unbothered is pretty easy, as I have a cold personality, but way of responding in a clever way was so much better than avoiding them. It's a great way to make the person offended, too. Thanks, wikiHow! Your guides are always the best."..." more
  • A

    Anonymous

    Feb 7

    "It was cleverly thought out with expert ideas to help! Thank you, wikiHow!"
  • A

    Anonymous

    Jan 31

    "wikiHow is the best help."
  • A

    Anonymous

    Jan 7

    "I thought that providing examples helped spark different ways I could prepare ahead for when someone brings me down in real life!"..." more
  • A

    Anonymous

    Nov 25, 2017

    "Responding in clever ways."
  • A

    Anonymous

    Aug 20, 2017

    "It's good to know that many people try to avoid and find ways to lessen attacks and attitudes by others that are demeaning, rude, sarcastic, angry, controlling. I know no one is alone on this. The difficulty is too that sometimes people work in unison to subtle practices rather than outright display their anger. They are strategic and, with a group, accomplish the task of others being in the wrong when that is not always the case, not nearly. "..." more
  • CM

    Crissy Miggins

    Oct 13, 2017

    "I like the tips about laughing at their insults to let them know that you don't take their insults seriously. I have to deal with people who try to pick fights with me when I have done nothing to them to provoke it. I simply avoid them altogether."..." more
  • LH

    Lizzy Hale

    Oct 19, 2017

    "Don't let them get to you! As soon as you break down, they know they have won. They then think that you are easy prey for them. Also, if you want to hit them - don't. They can then go and tattle on you and now you have become the bully as well."..." more
  • CL

    Cinder Leaf

    Sep 25, 2017

    "The step where it says "respond with something clever" helped. I love talking back not in a bad way, but in a positive way. I like small roasts that I can give to a hater."..." more
  • A

    Anonymous

    Aug 23, 2017

    "I liked the idea of thinking like he is a fashion expert. Use in my scenario would differ."
  • A

    Anonymous

    Oct 14, 2017

    "By ignoring them and not letting your emotions get the better of you, just walk away."
  • Oct 15, 2017

    "This kind of helps because now I know that I can just zone out and not mind them."
  • ME

    Maria Eros

    Oct 20, 2017

    "Always be reminded that there are some people who love you just the way you are."
  • TR

    Thila R.

    Oct 30, 2017

    "The tip to think of something positive/compliments during the insult helped."
  • JM

    Jesuferanmi Medaiyedu

    May 4, 2017

    "I love this article. Now I know what to do about bullies at my school."
  • GL

    Gloria Lucky

    Aug 30, 2016

    "Now I know how to deal with meanies. Thanks a lot!"
  • A

    Anonymous

    Oct 17, 2017

    "It helped me because I am being bullied at work. "
  • C

    Cynthia

    Nov 7, 2017

    "Thanks. My dumb and mean frenemy is going down!"
  • RD

    Rinson D. Souza

    Sep 15, 2016

    "This gives me a complete solution. Thank you."
  • Shaivi Singh

    Oct 10, 2017

    "Best one was responding in clever ways."
  • EH

    Esther Hendricks

    Oct 14, 2017

    "Responding cleverly was was the best."
  • A

    Anonymous

    Oct 14, 2017

    "Thank you, it helped a lot."
  • A

    Anonymous

    Oct 16, 2017

    "To respond in a funny way."
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