RiverHouse Press Blog by Ron Kraybill
Do you know people who get upset and insulted easily? They may not realize it, but they’re setups for easy manipulation. When you’re easily triggered, you’re a sitting duck for anyone having a bad day.
All it takes is a few choice words. Your buttons are pushed and you shuffle yourself off to the land of the Grumps.
Why give other people that kind of power over you?
You have no control over the behavior of others. You can’t stop them from being annoying. But you can remove your “Insult” button from easy public access. Be un-insultable.
It’s much easier said than done, of course. But it’s a choice you can make and work at achieving.
Un-Insultability in Practice
It even works with kids – if you can remember to do it. After starting this piece one night, I made supper for my 8 year twins. My culinary labors complete, I called the boys. But rather than devour what I’d prepared, they moaned about what I’d made and loudly declared they weren’t going to eat it.
When I said, “Well, that’s what we have tonight,” they announced that they weren’t going to eat supper at all and walked out of the kitchen.
Spoiled brats! I thought. They need to know this is not acceptable! I paused for a few seconds, brimming with righteous anger, to think about how to deliver the message with greatest impact.
In the pause I remembered what I’d just been writing about. And had to smile. A few minutes ago I was writing praise for the idea of being un-insultable. Here I stood now, undeniably offended. By eight year olds!
So what would it look like, I wondered, if I refused to be insulted and angry?
“That’s what the cook made for supper,” my dad used to say when I complained about food as a child. I wasn’t about to renege on that time-tested principle now. But there was no reason not to enjoy my own supper and no reason I had to be offended because the boys wouldn’t eat what I’d made.
I set aside their food and proceeded with preparations for myself. I coaxed myself into a song as I worked. As I was about to sit down and eat, a young dinner-denier wandered back into the kitchen. “Oh, well, maybe I’ll just eat what you made,” he said breezily.
Two minutes later, his brother appeared. As if the earlier exchange had never happened, the two proceeded – without a murmur of complaint – to devour the meal they’d just vowed never to eat.
OK, it’s not always that easy! Pick your own easy battle for starters. This attitude takes practice!
For more on being un-insultable, see this video by Roger Reece, the trainer and consultant who coined the term. He’s a good presenter and you’ll learn a lot in the 4 minute clip.
Take a Conflict Style Inventory – Thomas Kilmann or Style Matters
No matter how good you get at being un-insultable, there will still be times when you need to actively challenge others. A conflict style inventory such as the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument or my Style Matters conflict style inventory is a quick way to get a snapshot of your instincts in conflict and a framework to analyze your choices.
Watch for future blogs with more concepts to help get your attitude where you want it to be.
Share your experience with being un-insultable in Comments!
Dr. Ronald S. Kraybill is Peace and Development Advisor for the United Nations in Lesotho. He was Training Adviser 1993-1995 to the South African National Peace Accord, a structure created by political leaders to deal with violence during the political transition in South Africa. In recent years he has been involved in peace efforts in Israel/Palestine, Iraq, India, Sri Lanka, Burma and Guyana. He blogs on his publishing website, Riverhouse ePress.