Put Downs (Series)

How To Halt Put-downs And Come Out On Top Part Four

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So now you know what to say it should be easy right? Well, you know what they say, when man makes plans, God laughs. Others may be resistant to the assertive changes within you so let’s discuss what we need to anticipate in those around us this week.


What To Expect When You Begin To Assertively Stand Up For Yourself


If you are new to assertively standing up for yourself, especially if you have resorted to being passive in the past, you need to anticipate a certain level of resistance from others who have previously taken for granted that they can put you down.


Although this makes the process of being assertive harder at first, stick with it – you will get stronger and more confident in asserting yourself if you persist. Remember, the perpetrator is expecting you to back down at the first hurdle and when you don’t you will send a very clear message that you are not going to tolerate being mistreated any longer.


It’s also worth bearing in mind that being assertive will be uncomfortable at first. Very uncomfortable even. You might feel anxious, afraid, angry or a mixture of all these emotions. Try your very best to remain calm externally. Your emotions will calm during assertive exchanges once you have more experience of asserting yourself. Be patient with the process, persist in asserting yourself consistently and have confidence that it will get easier.


How To Halt Put-downs And Come Out On Top Part Three

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How To Halt Put-Downs The Assertive Way


Once time has passed and your emotions have cooled (at least a little) try to get the person in a neutral environment alone. If the person continues to put you down in front of others, maybe consider continuing to address the situation assertively – regardless of who is listening – as outlined below.


Most of all, remember to remain calm (at least on the outside) with a moderated tone of voice and open body language throughout the duration of the conversation, no matter what is being said. Remember, the moment you lose control and get angry or aggressive you give your power to the perpetrator which is exactly what they want.


Step One – Find Out The Intention Behind The Comment, Explain Your Thoughts And Feelings And Say What You Want


Repeat the put-down and then ask…


‘Can you say more about what you meant by that comment?’


The person may then reply by a further put-down such as ‘nothing, you’re overly sensitive’. Repeat the question and if they do not answer continue by saying…


‘I took the comment to mean (x, y, z). Is that what you meant by the comment?’


How To Halt Put-downs And Come Out On Top Part Two

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Although being assertive is beneficial, many – including me at times – shy away from it out of fear. Fear of conflict, fear of failure, fear of humiliation or even fear of further put downs. One of my favorite books is called ‘Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway’ so when possible I try to push through my fears because I know what I resist, persists.


Trust me, if I can do this, you can too. Just take a look at what you stand to gain below. It’s worth it, I promise.


 The benefits of being assertive


Assertiveness is all about creating healthy boundaries for how you wish to be treated and should not be confused with aggression which violates others disrespectfully. When we assert ourselves we shift from a victim mentality to an empowered one. We reap the rewards of increased self-esteem when we communicate to others we deserve to be treated with respect because we communicate our inherent worth.


Whilst dealing with put-downs is quite a specific area of assertiveness, if you feel you would like to be more assertive in your day to day life, I would suggest reading my other assertiveness articles as featured below:


How To Free Yourself And Assert Your Rights


A thorough look at the intrinsic rights we are all born with and how to protect them by creating boundaries.


Assertiveness: A Journey Worth Taking


Examines and explains advanced assertiveness techniques and breaks them down in a manageable and easy way.


Sick Of Over-Extending Yourself? Learn How To Say No


Explains in depth how to overcome the people-pleasing trap and gives step by step instructions on how to use assertiveness to say no.


The criticism quandary; How to handle criticism and emerge bigger and better for it


Looks at how to handle criticism in a healthy, constructive and assertive way, enabling you to use it to propel you forward.


How To Halt Put-Downs – Immediate Responses


The best way to respond to put-downs – at least initially – is with humor. This disarms the perpetrator and fails to give them the reaction they want which is anger, you feeling ashamed or humiliated. A standard and very effective response to almost any put-down is:


How To Halt Put-downs And Come Out On Top Part One

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‘I felt awful I missed the meeting this morning.’

‘At least you made it into work this time!’

‘Yea, I guess so…’


We’ve all experienced the bitter aftertaste of a put-down which caught us completely unawares. How do you typically respond? If you’re anything like me, you’ll think of the perfect response a day late, leaving you feeling frustrated and angry, both at yourself and at the person who delivered the sour remark.


Whilst living in shared accommodation in London I had the unfortunate pleasure of sharing with a man who by all means was the king of put-downs. I honestly think he lived his life in a state of constant anger and frustration and the only way he knew how to alleviate his pain was to put others down. Needless to say he was a very unpleasant character.


At the time I knew nothing about assertiveness and so had no idea how to reply, leaving me constantly bewildered and feeling attacked. I can see now that my ‘perfect responses’ were actually just put-downs themselves, and would have left me entering into a competition on passive aggression, which he would obviously win.


The reality of put-downs is that they are almost always indirect and so virtually impossible to address at the time without resorting to demeaning remarks back. Thankfully, after learning more about assertiveness, I am now better able to defend myself against put downs, but it still takes a great deal of courage to tackle them in a direct way and there have been times when I’ve fallen short of being assertive. Having said that, when I do respond assertively, I feel incredibly empowered, having said I find the behavior unacceptable.


Throughout this month’s series we will address how to respond to put-downs in such a way that you too feel empowered; standing up for yourself whilst maintaining your integrity by being respectful, diplomatic and firm.


What Is A Put-Down Exactly?


Dictionary.com defines a put-down as:


“A disparaging, belittling, or snubbing remark. A remark or act intended to humiliate or embarrass



The Psychological Reasons People Give Put-Downs


Often those who use put-downs towards others are very insecure and hide behind them, feeling it the only way they can safely communicate their anger or elevate themselves socially.