What Are The Best Ways To Respond To Accusations/Personal Attacks?

An Introduction To Personal Attacks

Personal attacks will always feel like a sudden blow when they’re unprovoked and unwarranted. While it’s normal for most people to express disgust toward someone who has done something purposely mean or horrible, it can come as a shock when the personal attack isn’t true. The reasons why some people insult, humiliate, or accuse another can be vast – it could range from the attacker having a personality disorder or perhaps they had a bad day and will soon regret they said something so hurtful. In most cases, the insult says more about the attacker than the one they’ve attacked. People who respect themselves and others go to great lengths to avoid hurting others – and watching how they speak is included in those efforts.

Despite the reasons or variables surrounding a personal attack, they can leave us stunned. What are some great ways to respond to personal attacks both online and in the real world?

Staying Calm Is The First Step To Responding To Insults or Demeaning Comments

When we’ve been attacked, our first instinct is to either defend ourselves or attack back. Regardless of how mean the personal attack was, throwing back the same hurtful words will only solidify the bad opinion that person has of you. It also discredits anything you say after you’ve retaliated. You will also regret behaving similarly to the person who just attacked you – you’ll feel as though you aren’t actually living up to your values and maybe this person was somewhat right.

It’s also common to ignore the attack, hoping it will go away. In some cases, ignoring a rude person is the best route for moving on with your life, but if you deal with the personal attacker often or they’re a part of your social circle, simply ignoring it will not help you in the long run. The attacker might think your silence signals guilt or agreement with what they said. Sometimes you need to stand up for yourself – and you can do so calmly.

Having a calm and respectful reply to any attacker will always be more beneficial than attacking back or ignoring them.

What Are Some Helpful Ways To Calmly Respond To Personal Attacks?

Don’t take the insults personally. Remember that a personal attack is not really about you. It’s almost always about the attacker’s emotional state or outlook. Sometimes they genuinely misunderstood what you did or said, but regardless of their reason, someone accusing you of being something you’re not does not make it true.

Detach yourself from needing to be liked by everyone. People come from all walks of life. The reality is that not everyone is going to like you or the way you do things. Realizing that it’s okay if not everyone holds you in positive regard will free you from fear of criticism. Let people think what they want. You are who you are regardless of their perception of you.

Accept that it’s okay to feel upset when you’ve just been attacked. We are not robots. We feel it when someone shows how much they dislike us or what we’re doing. It’s what you do with your anger/disappointment that defines how the rest of your day will go.

Realize that feeling shame is normal. Even if the accusations aren’t true, if they were said in front of people you like and respect, it’s natural to feel some embarrassment. If there’s some truth to it, ask yourself if it’s something you’re willing to live with or if it’s something you might want to change for your own benefit (not for theirs). If there’s no truth to it, let it go and move on with your day. Acknowledge you felt some shame after being attacked/humiliated, but that feeling does not define you.

Remember your values. Sometimes when we’ve been hurt, we lash out to protect ourselves from appearing weaker than the one who just hurt us. However, acting in a way that you normally wouldn’t can solidify the attacker’s negative beliefs about you. Remind yourself who you are and what your values are. Being attacked can be a great opportunity to show others as well as yourself how you really handle conflict and negativity. You’ll end up coming out of the situation feeling stronger. Keep doing what you’re doing. You don’t need to say “I’m a productive person with a lot of great things to offer! Why would you accuse me of being lazy?” You already do things that help others as well as yourself, so continue to uphold your values/way of life. The truth always comes out in the end.

Realize the person’s value to you. Does this person even know you? Are they someone you want to be like or have in your circle? Are they close to you or a stranger? If they’re not someone you’d want to be like, their opinion probably isn’t relevant anyway.

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I hope you found this helpful. I think the most important thing to take away from this post is to remember who you really are outside of the personal attack and to remain calm for your sake as well as others. Thank you so much for reading me today!

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6 comments

  1. Hi Sara, thank you for sharing your insightful thoughts. I fully agree with you on dealing with it in a calm and firm manner. Once again, thank you. 🙏

  2. Great advice. It really does say more about the attacker/harasser than it does about the victim/recipient. Always helps to be mindful of that, for sure. ☺️

    • Yes definitely! As freaky as it is, at least you know you didn’t really do anything to ask for it. Decent people don’t go around accusing others of stuff or harassing them about stuff.

  3. With the way internet is I think most of us had to deal with trolls, insulting comments, negativity and false accusations. In many cases I just think it is better to ignore the attacker or delete the comment and/or block the person if you have that power. However, certain things like false accusations that others may end up believing are things that I feel sometimes needs to be addressed. I think your advice is very good and well explained.

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