Whenever someone insults or offends me, my initial instinct is to clap back. In my mind, I think, “There’s no way in hell I can let what just happened slide.” And before I respond, I tell myself, “Girl, just breathe,” and as I exhale and release my anger, aggravation, and tension, I feel myself calming, and after a few deep breaths and perhaps some fresh air, I typically reposition myself, let the offense go, and move on with my life.
But if I can be completely honest, letting an offense go isn’t always an easy thing to do. If you’ve ever been offended, I’m certain you may find this relatable. I know I’ve had to tame my inner mean girl (plenty of times) who I know is fully capable of being savage, vengeful, and equally mean (if not meaner) than those I’ve taken digs from whenever an offense has taken place. And while my inner mean girl has been ready to pop off every now and then, I’ve had to remind her and myself, “We’re better than this. We’re not going to clap back.”
Now, I’ve seen others clap back when an offense has taken place in their own lives, and I’ve sometimes been stunned at the boldness of someone who was sharp, quick, and unapologetic when clapping back at someone who disrespected them. But I’ve also seen how problematic clap backs can be. In a heated moment of anger or hurt, some clap backs have had serious consequences – damaged relationships, destroyed trust, obliterated reputations, and the loss of respect, just to name a handful—that likely took a long time building up. So, is there really anything to be gained from a clap back?
Sure, it may feel good in the moment to clap back at someone who’s been mean, rude, or offensive to you, but I’ve learned that it’s simply not worth it.
One day when I received a nasty email from one of my coworkers, I could feel myself getting worked up. The tone of the email was condescending and completely unnecessary – and it didn’t help that others who worked above me were CC’d in the email too. In that moment, I had to back away from my laptop, take a breather, vent to a trusted confidant, and calm down. My inner mean girl was more than ready to respond with some colorful language and insults in return, but then I remembered, “We’re better than this. We’re not going to clap back.”
If I’d immediately chosen to respond right after reading what I read, it likely wouldn’t have been something good and certainly wouldn’t have enhanced me professionally. So, I chose to let the offense go. Though I was offended and irritated, I knew that clapping back to prove a point would have caused more harm than good. Some people and situations just aren’t worth it.
Before you decide to clap back about anything, take a moment to be still. First, protect your energy and don’t let yourself get so worked up. You can’t control the things other people say and do, but you can control how you choose to respond. Second, be mindful of your reputation. There have been times when my inner mean girl wanted to roar when I was offended, however, I had to keep her quiet because even if I wasn’t the one initiating an offense, I knew the way I responded would be analyzed and judged more than the person who initially started things. So think before responding. And finally, keep your emotions in check. Naturally, it can be upsetting to endure an offense, but offenses will come. That’s life. But what you don’t want to do is risk everything you’ve worked hard for because of how you chose to respond to an offense.
You always have a choice. So choose wisely.