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Less Offense, More Rewards!

Responding to Offenses with Class  – By Mariah Walton 

If you’ve never read an article on etiquette for the modern professional, this, I would say, is a great place to start! Because if you’re anything like me, sometimes your emotions and how you “feel” about a topic can spiral into a whirlwind of resentment, anger, bitterness, and certainly, offense. (As a matter of fact, as I write this article I am repeating, “I am not easily offended” while I wait for a return message from someone who typically responds promptly…so what is the problem today, I wonder? What are they doing? Did I say something? Do something? What’s going on!)

Now, I know that I am not the only one to ever experience those thoughts (Ha-ha); but there are tactics that I have found work wonders toward maintaining our collective personal peace, sanity, and contentment through these instances, so let’s dive right in.

I have found that the most heightened times of offense occur in the workplace. People can be envious, coveting and untruthful. Some may call them haters, but I like to call them “confused admirers.” This person may even be your own boss. The wise tactic is knowing how to respond properly to get the result you want…which is, ultimately, to become difficult to offend. Why? Because the more difficult you are to offend, the happier you are in the workplace, the stronger you are in relationships, and the more productive you are as a leader.

Let’s look at some ways to respond gracefully and with class.

1) Eat the Meat, Take Out the Bones

Not all criticism is correct and valid, but realize that there could be some truth in it. This takes maturity and humility. Strive to be a person who listens and not just is “quiet while they’re conjuring up a defense in their mind.” There is a big difference. Although someone’s delivery of their message could be brash or harsh, not internalizing it is a healthy choice leading to less stress…not to mention, we learn how to best and most effectively deliver a message to someone should we become the person to do the coaching. Recognize the message, not the delivery.

2) Keep It Classy

Sometimes my East Coast attitude likes to rear its ugly head. (Disclaimer: Not all East Coasters have an edge. I typically hide mine well.) However, I’ve found that while immediately responding with a snap back or going for the jugular may give instant relief, it actually tells a story about a person’s behavior. A short fuse would convey that, perhaps, a person is unapproachable; that people may not want to work with them; or maybe he or she should not hold a leadership position.

Responding with a “Thank you for bringing that to my attention” and a smile not only does wonders for you in areas of personal growth, but if the criticizer is a nay-sayer, it shows them that you are a person of grace and who is collected, stable, and not easily offended. Very classy, as manners are more about the way you treat people, not about how they treat you. They most likely will not approach you this way again, as remember, anything that is fed increases and grows. Do not feed it.

3) Remember: You Never Look Good Making Someone Look Bad

Do not ever gossip about the offender and what they said to offend you! Ever.

There is a saying that goes, “If Susie is talking about Sally, it says more about Susie than Sally.” Great minds discuss ideas; small minds discuss people.

Instead, use that energy to discuss ways to improve a situation; generate ideas with a trusted advisor; become better in your role…basically, create positive out of the negative. It’s very admirable to watch someone in a heated debate or on a reality TV competition responding tactfully and not with swearing and tossing objects or walking off the show.

This may be just me, but I am more interested in the refined person who took the criticism and was not a sore loser, and instead used that feedback as a crutch to get back up and move forward. That, ladies and gentleman, is a trait to be adopted! And then we enjoy the winner breeze.

Well I trust you, dear reader, to begin implementing these simple practices. From my own experience I can tell you they will, without a doubt, enhance your life tremendously! I shudder to think of all the opportunities I had to respond properly to offenses, but instead responded emotionally and lost a reward. Thankfully, we can change our compass and begin traveling in the right direction.

So here’s to relocation from offenses! Welcome to your happy place.

To learn more about Mariah Walton, visit

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