When We Are Offended
Posted July 26, 2013on:
I participated in a discussion this week in one of the stuttering groups about how we react when we are offended. Specifically, someone started a thread about how thick-skinned we are when it comes to negative reactions to our stuttering.
We can’t account for another person’s ignorance, stupidity or callousness, but we have a choice as to how we act or react.
Do we get defensive, defiant or confrontational? Or do we take offensive remarks and behavior in stride and take an opportunity to educate folks about something they may know nothing about?
In that discussion, I shared that I “choose my battles” wisely. If a stranger mocks or laughs at me, and I’m likely not to see that person ever again, I probably will not say anything and just let it go.
But if someone I know makes fun of my speech, or someone I know I’ll see again, then I may seize the opportunity to educate and raise awareness. But that does require a thick skin and right motive.
In the past, when someone has been rude or hurtful, I would get very upset, tear up and often be too embarrassed to say anything. As I’ve become more comfortable with my stuttering, I have found the courage to disclose that I stutter and that their comment or behavior offended me.
I try not to disclose just so that someone feels bad and apologizes profusely, but will admit on more than one occasion I didn’t mind seeing the person squirm in embarrassment.
I remember the time when I was signing up for a new job and an administrative assistant laughed at me during conversation. At first, I didn’t say anything, thinking I must have misunderstood. But when it happened a second time while I was still speaking, I knew I had to say something.
I told her I stutter, and she immediately looked embarrassed and apologized profusely. She even said she never would have reacted like she did had she known I stuttered. We finished our business and before I left, she apologized again. I believe I educated her that day about stuttering and she may have become just a bit more tolerant and patient.
How do you react when someone offends you, whether intentional or not?