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Choose Your Response to Offense

If you live long enough you will encounter tactless people, ungrateful bosses, or insensitive family members. Your choice is to react defensively from a place of fear, hurt, and anger, or respond deliberately from your center of power.

  • Express yourself. Tell the offender how her behavior or statement affected you, using a constructive "I message" that includes impact, offending behavior, and your request. For example, "I was so embarrassed when you told the group how I messed up. In the future I'd prefer you let me share my own mistakes."
  • Forgive the offense silently. Chalk the offense up to human error, remembering two things: you are not so different from the offender since you probably have caused someone similar distress at some point in your life, and the person may not have had malicious intent, just a lack of skill or insight. Try forgiving both the offender and yourself.
  • Decide not to take offense in the first place. Realize the comment or action has little to do with you and much more to do with the other person's needs. Try a little empathy.
Offense can be found everywhere or nowhere, depending on who's doing the looking. Make it a practice to always assume positive intent.
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A series of "quick-lifts" excerpted from Recharge in Minutes, ©2003, by Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D.

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