4 Responses That Instantly Shut Down Insults

When someone insults you, you don't need to stoop to their level.

man and woman arguing, jeff fisher discussing how to handle insults TikTok / @justaskjefferson, DW labs Incorporated / Shutterstock, anatolir / Canva Elements

Insulting words come in many forms. There are outright mean insults and cut deep, "funny" insults that come under the guise of joking, and degrading words that come from people who are naturally condescending and have not learned how to address others respectfully.

Then there are people who insult your intelligence by claiming to have all the answers. If people who consistently come up with mean words to say to someone go unchecked, their interactions can easily devolve into toxic conversations that people need to walk away from to preserve their sanity.


Luckily, there are a few tried and true ways to deal with insults without losing your cool.

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Why do people insult others?

According to TikToker and trial attorney Jefferson Fisher, “When people insult you, they’re looking for that hit of dopamine of your negative reaction.” Insults are a way of getting emotional feedback, albeit dysfunctional.


There are several reasons why people insult others.

One is that they perceive a threat from the other person and the insult is a defense mechanism. The insult is a way of releasing the physiological and emotional tension created by the insulting person’s anger and frustration.

Insults are also a way of placing the blame elsewhere. It assigns fault to another party, valid or not. People who sling insults use them as a way of dodging accountability and making someone else responsible for their discomfort or the untenable situation.

How to Handle Insults

According to Fisher, to deal with insults from other people, you must first adapt the mindset that you’re going to “add distance between what they said and how you respond”.


He offers the following options when considering how to deal with insults.



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1. Stare them down.

The first option Fisher gives is to stare your insulter down. This creates an awkward silence that causes them to rethink their words. And that eye contact can get especially uncomfortable.


2. Continue doing what you’re doing.

Because the person insulting you is looking for emotional feedback from you, ignoring them and going about your business is a good reaction to insults. Give them no indication that you are bothered by their words.

3. Ask for their name and ask them to repeat the insult.

Fisher says that this particular option works well on people you don’t know personally. After they insult you, ask their name, then request that they repeat what they said.

“It totally takes the wind out of their sail,” he says. It takes away the impact of their offensive words.

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4. Agree with their insult.

If you happen to know the person hurling insults at you, agree with what they said.

Fisher says, “By agreeing to it, I totally take away that satisfaction of the dopamine.” As an example, he uses, “Well, maybe you’re right,” then proceeds to ask the aggressor if they are feeling okay, turning the tables.

Some other options for handling insults are to laugh it off, express how it made you feel, return the insult, accept it as constructive criticism, or if it makes you feel unsafe report it to the authorities.


How you react to insults can vary depending on the circumstances. Understanding the motives behind another person's actions and allowing yourself to feel emotions is important in moving past the insult to resolution.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington who specializes in content self-love, interpersonal relationships, and lifestyle topics. She strives to deliver informative and entertaining news you can use to help navigate life.