How to Politely Respond to Serious Shade

BuyMeLunchI recently experienced girl-on-girl hate. She threw some serious shade at me. I’ll admit, it came as a shock.

A little bit about me: I try to get along with everyone. It doesn’t matter their age, race, gender- whatever. None of that really matters, because we’re all human beings in this world, you know? I try to live my life through the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you wish to be treated.

I also think back to the Thumper analogy, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

I just returned from a large direct sales cosmetic company conference, which the focus is about Enriching Women’s Lives and celebrating people to success. To experience such unnecessary shade from a woman I didn’t even know, it was like a slap in the face.

Of course now I know what I would have said, because I was up half the night re-playing the scenario in my head. It would have sounded something like this, “I don’t think I properly introduced myself. My name is Kera Brossette, and I don’t let people talk to me like that. Your attempt to belittle me has not been taken lightly. I’d like to point out that you are a guest at this table, and I was asked to be here. So if there is somewhere you’d rather be, I suggest you go there.”

Did I say that? No.

Do I wish I did? Yes.

Define: throw shadeInstead, of standing up for myself, I sat there quietly with my head down as I processed what just happened. And then I ignored it. Something tells me other people ignore these types of rude comments from this woman, which is why she feels empowered to voice them.

It bothers me that I gave this woman, who I didn’t know and who clearly has no respect for me, to have power over me. Her few words kept me up half the night, just stewing and oozing in my subconscious. I refuse to let someone have that kind of control of me in the future.

To help myself and those, who like me, are slow to process hateful shade, I want to share a few words of advice that I’ve found from researching this topic.

  1. Either Respond or Don’t. Keep in mind that some comments are rude without intent to harm you. He or she may not know any better. But when a comment is targeted at you, and you are personally insulted or feel belittled by the comment, he or she has a right to know that.
  2. If you do choose to respond, Speak Assertively. Assertive does not mean aggressive. Speak with power and confidence to show the bully you are not a push-over. Be careful not to add insult to injury, or you may entice the bully to continue with his or her shade.
  3. Share your Feelings. A person may disagree with your opinion, but he or she cannot disagree with the way their words made you feel. Also, this technique assists to help those who are so blatantly unaware of how their actions affect other people.
  4. Disengage when Necessary. The aggressor may be quick to suck you into his/her own toxic behavior. I suggest either walking away or giving the bully an excuse to leave/exit strategy.

I also came across some recommended comebacks, some of which I don’t agree with. So I give you my edited, slimmed-down version of successful responses to difficult people. You can read the full list of 12 comebacks for dealing with difficult people. Tell me what you think of my version of their list, and their list while we’re at it, in the comments.

  • Excuse me, but did you actually just say… (Feelings Summary with Assertiveness)
  • Well, I think we’ve reached the end of this conversation. (Disengage)
  • Did you mean to be that rude? (Assertiveness)
  • I think that was a bit rude or You just offended me (Feelings Summary with Assertiveness)
  • I’m sure you didn’t mean for that (question) to be rude /inappropriate, but that’s how it sounded. (Assertive)
  • I don’t really know how to answer that. (Disengage)

I have been told that the most successful women lift each other up. Powerful women don’t walk over others, they celebrate them. They are the type of women who recognize talent and choose to mentor for the purpose of work improvement or succession training.

The sad reality is this is not always the case. Remember, the only way to vanquish the workplace and non-workplace bullies out there is to show them you are not one to be bullied and to stand up to injustice.


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