We’ve probably all heard the comment Winston Churchill made to the woman who told him he was drunk, “I may be drunk, Madam, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.” I wish I was that quick with a comeback to a snarky (rude, sarcastic, snide ridiculing) comment!
Unfortunately, we sometimes work with someone (Susie, for this example) who is prone to make snarky remarks. She’ll insult people (“That’s the best idea I’ve heard in the last minute”), put them down, (“I bet you think you’re smart,”) or be downright offensive, (“Brownnosing again?”) Frustrated co-workers sometimes call this behavior bullying, but it really isn’t because it’s not targeted at a specific individual but rather aimed at pretty much anyone. There are usually no policies in place that can effectively address this behavior, so it’s up to co-workers (rather than management) to deal with it – especially since it’s usually only exhibited when no supervisory staff members are present.
We’ve probably all had to listen to snarky comments from Susie, all been upset by them, and all kicked ourselves for not knowing what to say in the moment. So, Susie gets snarky with us, and we feel bad. Is there anything else we can do?
Sure – PREPARE!
Make a list of effective responses, and practice them. I want to re-state the ones from Amy’s last blog, and add a few:
– “I don’t think this conversation (or comment) is appropriate. Let’s move on.”
– Change the subject: “Anyone want to xxx?”
– Repeat what Susie just said, with a question, “Susie, did you really just say that I’m a moron?” Look at her and wait, silently.
– Label what Susie just said, with a question, “Susie, did you intend to insult Henry with that comment?”
– With wonder in your voice say, “I don’t think I heard you right. Can you repeat that?”
– With shock in your voice say, “Pardon me? What did you just say?”
All of these comments will likely stop Susie in her tracks. She’s not used to being called on her rudeness – and won’t like it one bit. Doing this regularly in response to her comments will tend to modify her behavior to the good, and will make you feel empowered rather than victimized.
So, practice these (or other) comebacks. Write them down. Post them by your desk. Say them to the mirror in the morning. Do this until they become a natural part of your communication arsenal, and you will be well prepared to respond in an effective way to those who, like Susie, want to control interactions with their snarky remarks.
Let us know great comebacks you have used! ~Daphne Schneider