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  • Tracy Hooper

How to Respond to Mean Comments 2.0

Hi everyone.

The April 2023 video called, "How to Respond to Mean Comments," received so many responses that this month, I’m adding several more comeback lines. The April video is about one of my smart and ambitious clients who's gotten several derogatory and unsolicited comments from other professional women. Right to her face. Now, we all know that mean comments can come from anyone. But no matter who says them, it can still be jarring and hurtful and can knock us off our game. Practice these comeback lines, so if they come at you, you're ready. If someone tells you, “You have such high standards.” Simply say, “Thank you for noticing. Yes, I do.” And stop talking.

If they say, “You’re way too concerned about your reputation.” Say, “I love my good reputation and I've earned it. For me, reputation is right up there with character. What I do when nobody is watching and what I stand for when everybody is watching.” Then stop talking. If they say, “You’re an overachiever.” Try these options:

  • "It’s odd. I don’t hear people say that about men.”

  • “Hmmm. Help me understand what overachieving means to you?”

  • “I've known you as an advocate for anybody who works hard and wants people to be successful.”

  • “I find that comment to be vague and unhelpful. What are you really trying to tell me?”

  • “I know you as a person who supports people with goals. What’s changed?”

  • “I think of you as kinder than that. Where's that comment coming from?”

  • “You’re more considerate than that. What’s going on?”

  • “That sort of comment doesn’t help us to work together better. I'm open specific feedback that’s offered thoughtfully.”

Get the gist? The key is to be brief, use those “I statements” and then stop talking. There’s power in the pause. Let them sweat in the silence. And then you can carry on with Confidence. Thank you for reading for watching.

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