Mark’s Blog

Put-downs can hurt 

“If your brains were dynamite, there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off.” (1)

How’s that for a put-down? Not bad. Not bad at all. Perhaps we could even say witty and amusing – unless of course we happened to be on the receiving end.

Being on the receiving end of a put-down isn’t fun. After all, a put-down is an unflattering and disparaging comment – or in some cases, an action like yawning or or rolling the eyes.

Put-downs can be subtle 

Put-downs are usually directed at our personal attributes such as our mental capacity, skills, looks or weight. But they can also be directed at our decisions, what we said or did, and even at things like our possessions and where we live. But either way, the upshot is they hurt. They can  make us feel embarrassed, belittled and even humiliated.

I call people who think it’s okay to deliver put-downs, Put-Down Merchants.  And they’re one of the 52 Types of People who are Poorly Behaved or Difficult I’ve documented. You can read  about the The Put-Down Merchant in a short article I’ve written – just click here.

But the thing to note about put-downs is they aren’t always straightforward and obvious like the insult above. Sometimes they’re subtle such as when they’re hidden, at least to some degree, in sarcastic remarks and back-handed compliments. And this can make them a little tricky to handle.

Different strategies for different situations

Sometimes a put-down doesn’t affect us much at all; it’s like water of a ducks back. But other times a put-down can hit hard. But either way, the issue is: what’s the best way to respond?

Of course, sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing. It’s instead of taking the bait, ignoring it and moving on. After all, responding might only give the perpetrator the satisfaction of knowing they hit home.

But sometimes we feel a put-down shouldn’t go unanswered. And in some cases, our role or position very much dictates we shouldn’t let it go. So what follows is a specialised strategy for responding to them.

The FSAT script

I’ve developed a list of strategies for dealing with bad behaviour and difficult people and many of them can be used to deal with put-downs. You can get it here.

But among then is a special strategy for specifically dealing with put-downs. It’s called the FSAT script. It’s an acronym: Facts, Seemed, Ask and Tell. It can be tailored and then personalised to fit your specific needs.

The following gives an overview it. And below the video is a brief outline of the FSAT script.  Enjoy.

A short video with captions: An overview of the FSAT script

A summary of the FSAT script

F = Facts

Tell the person: “What you just said.” or “When you said …………..……..”

That is, you let them know what you’re talking about but just by using the FACTS.

S = Seemed/sounded like 

Tell them: “It seemed like a put-down.” Or “It seemed like:  it was designed to hurt; you were having a dig at me,; you were trying to embarrass me;  etc”

That is, you let them know you’re onto them.

A = Ask

You ask them: “Have I interpreted your comments correctly?”, “Was that what you were trying to do?”, etc.

That is, you put them on the spot but without putting them down. You are assertive yet tactful.

T = Tell them

No matter what their answer is – for example “Yes, I was having a go at you.”, “No. You’re just being over sensitive.”,  They complain “How could you possibly think such a thing?”, they tell you “You can’t take a joke.” etc – you tell them, in your own words to suit the situation:

“It felt like a put-down. I don’t want you to say that sort of thing again.”

That is, you assertively yet diplomatically tell them you didn’t like what they said and how it felt, and you want them to refrain from making such comments in the future.

All the very best, Mark.

Reference: (1) From the novel Timequake by American writer Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1922 – 2007). He is best known for novel Slaughterhouse-Five published in 1969.

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