People Skills: Responding to Disrespect With Dignity | #PeopleSkills

People Skills: Dignity in the Face of Disrespect

Work and life bring people together.  Often they form positive connections through great people skills and build trust with great results.

Sometimes the interactions don’t work out well at all.  For some reason, the people don’t respect or trust each other.  But what if they must still interact?

How can you respond to disrespect with dignity?

People Skills Dignity: Image is a sign saying "Means should correspond to the dignity of the end."

People Skills: Responding With Dignity Image by:edmittance

Grateful for image by: edmittance via Flickr Creative Commons License.

People Skills: Responding to Disrespect With Dignity

  1. Focus on human dignity vs. the need to be right.

    Even when there’s disrespect for others’ views, resolution comes through communication. Treating others with dignity keeps the communication flowing. The need to be right can generate a degrading response. Once said, it echoes forever making a dignified end result very difficult.

  2. Clearly set limits on verbal abuse without abusing.

    Often when verbal abuse is coming at you, the instinct is to fight back in a similar undignified manner. Yet there is nothing as strong as firmly and clearly setting limits — with dignity. If verbal abuse continues, you can always take a temporary leave. A wonderful how-to resource on this is The Power of a Positive No by negotiation expert William Ury.

  3. Consider how you would feel. Don’t patronize.

    In the heat of emotion and the desire to win an argument, it’s tempting to patronize. Yet, this degradation makes matters worse and makes interaction difficult. As adults we all like to be treated as adults. Instead of patronizing, bravely ask for a new approach. “Let’s all treat each other as valued adults. It brings cooperation.”

  4. Know yourself & your hot buttons.

    Undignified responses come from fears, past scars, and insecurities. When someone you don’t respect touches on any of your hot buttons, your non-dignified response is close at hand. Yet if you are aware of your triggers, you can own them, repress their power over you, and choose dignity for yourself and others.

  5. Clarify goals instead of assuming the worst.

    Knowledge highlights alternatives; assumptions feed emotions and fears. Better to ask “What is your goal?” than to assume a person’s goal is to degrade you. If they admit their goal is to attack your dignity, you can clearly set limits or walk away.

  6. Trust That People Skills and Dignity Are a Winner.

    Responding with dignity doesn’t mean weakness. It doesn’t lead to failure and defeat. Quite the opposite! There is enormous strength and power in maintaining your dignity and treating others that way too.

  7. Let time provide insight and answers.

    Time out to defuse and consider what’s truly important also sends the message that a new approach is needed. It’s a strong yet dignified way to interact, when necessary, with those you don’t respect.

People Skills: Responding to Disrespect With Dignity

Why is it tough to show dignity to those we don’t respect? Because the desire to treat others with dignity usually comes from a sense of mutual respect. When that is missing, we must look within ourselves to respond with dignity.

Responding with dignity preserves our own dignity and that is the inspiration to continue — even with those we don’t respect!

What else has life taught you about responding to disrespect with dignity?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

The Way forward signpost in the sky

Related Posts:
Be Treated Respectfully: How to Set Limits w/ Pushy People
People Skills Secret to Success: Uninvited Bluntness Loses
People Skills: Integrity & Authenticity
People Skills: Empathize Before You Analyze

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Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

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14 Responses to “People Skills: Responding to Disrespect With Dignity | #PeopleSkills”

  1. Kate!
    #4 was YESTERDAY’S morning topic… I speak a lot to our Trainees about looking within themselves and self control.

    THIS is a post I will print and include in all of their binders. Wow. Thank you 100 times over for such a simply put (VERY IMPORTANT) post…and yet so very very important.

    I deal with this exact topic on a sadly regular basis. One of our team members has a definite lack of what I was raised to call “class”. (which is a direct source of much drama and quite honestly, for me anyhow, embarrassment.) But after reading this post, I have to question that assessment.

    I am going to have to take the time (right now) to read this over a couple more times. (THAT is how hard this post hit me!)…all I can say for now, is very sincerely, thank you.

    Oh! (this is like a p.s.) I have been (and my entire family and Team) very sick these last couple of weeks. I have decided to pretend I’m not. Maybe that’ll work! LOL, nothing else has! So here I am!!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Dear Amber,
      I am truly psyched that this post touched you positively at the right time — and will help your team as well. Also, I hope you and your family feel better very soon!

      Regards and thanks,

  2. Hi Kate!

    A topic well worth mentioning. Dignity is so important to uphold in our business and personal life. I like #4 because when you know yourself, and your hot buttons, you can say “give me a moment” – take a deep breath, and then answer in a calm intelligent manner.

    There is no use fueling the fire of a conflict. It gets us nowhere and only makes us look foolish. I like the way you said that if you know your “triggers” you own them. So true!


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Donna,
      I am with you completely about the “triggers” point. It is tremendously helpful and I have learned most of mine (there always room for more growth) and find that knowledge very comforting and empowering.

      So pleased to hear your views here. Hope you will contribute often with your insight and expertise.

      Regards and thanks,

  3. Dan says:

    Beautifully said on all counts, Kate. And such a tough topic. We all get hooked from time to time. The only thought I would add relates to #4 and #7 — I sense it’s often a dose of self-compassion that’s needed to break the flow. I find I like myself much less when I am defending, so at some point I must give myself, not just the other person, some room, attention, and affirmation. The experience of dealing with others when respect and trust have been lost, is, it seems to me, always a learning experience — and also learning perhaps that is never quite complete. Thus, some form of self-acceptance seems vital to me, if acceptance of the other person is to ever come about.

    All the best

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Our connection is always dynamic. Your posts touch me in ways that bring me to leave comments and you always add to the discussion on my posts. Love your addition of “self-compassion” to break the flow of negativity and disrespect. These are difficult moments and caring for ourselves lifts us up and can help others simultaneously as the refreshed positive views start to flow.

      Many thanks,

  4. Jacky Voncken says:

    Kate, another brilliant post! Thanks so much for your insights on this topic of dignity. I feel that in addition to all your insights of responding with dignity which is already such a big challenge, it is also so important to realize that undignified responses from the other indeed are also an expression of fear, hurt, insecurities. In other words, there is often an unmet underlying deep need in that person. Once you embrace that realization it is easier to emotionally disengage yourself and self regulate your triggers. And to feel not only self compassion but also compassion for the other. To forgive. To explore in a more calm moment what the real need is behind the undignified reaction. To resolve and move forward together within clearly set agreements, limits and borders regarding respectful and dignified behavior. Curious to hear your thoughts

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thanks Jacky. Insecurities abound and the short pause to gather your emotions allows you also to see it. From their a more productive communication is possible!

      I appreciate your contribution here!

  5. Kate – Your post is resonating on so many levels. Mostly because of our expat lives.
    Discrimination is legal here. Being on the receiving end of constant disrespect because of race and/or position is a constant norm for a huge majority.
    Responses vary from person to person and from day to day. Most stuff whatever they are feeling and don’t react. Some get hostile – but it doesn’t do them any good and puts them at great risk. Some look and act defeated all of the time.
    Being able to feel dignified deep inside and radiate that out to everyone around you – no matter how you are treated is a powerful vision that can be life-changing.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Many thanks Chery for adding this perspective — of expats — to this discussion. Feeling disrespected can be a painful path. When we can retain our own dignity, it sustains us while we determine the best steps. Sometimes, feeling dignified can be enough of a step. Other times, we need to make a change.

      Grateful for your contribution here,

  6. Judy says:

    Thank you for this article. I believe it will help me shift out of a very toxic
    work environment that finally woke up to the fact that I was in. It encourages a child/adult relationship with
    authority. I don’t like being treated like a child because I’ve grown enough to want to and expect to be treated like an adult.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart to opening me up to this new and very possible
    bright future no matter what unfolds.



    • Kate Nasser says:

      I am honored Judy by your personal insight. Your self-awareness will help everyone who reads your comment on this post. Best wishes and continued success.

      Grateful regards,

  7. Randy Clark says:

    Good piece as usual Kate! I’m not always good at listening, especially in a heated situation, but listening and asking for clarification can sometimes diffuse the situation.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Randy,
      We all have those moments where are listening breaks. Yet when we aware of when our listening usually breaks down, we can overcome it and be ready to use listening and resolve the tough situations.

      Thanks for adding to this discussion!

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