Being made fun of can be annoying and upsetting. Unfortunately, these subtle acts of bullying are a common experience. The most effective approach to stopping this behavior is to address the problem head on. Ideally, this is accomplished without resorting to the same level of behavior and instead, includes appropriate confrontation and in some serious cases, legal intervention.
Take a direct and immediate approach
Confront the person who is making fun of you -- which does not imply returning the attack. Remain calm and stick to the facts. This can help you point out the problematic behaviors and their effects. Steer clear of blaming or inferring the underlying reason behind someone's choice to make fun of you. Explain instead that what the person has said to you or about you is not okay.
Go with the joke. This is a counteractive approach that takes some confidence to accomplish but can be very effective. This involves taking what has been said about you and turning it into something equally, or more comical. Laughing at yourself is one of the most effective ways to stop the jokes in their tracks, mainly because your lighthearted reaction is the opposite of the intended effect of the joke.
Don't take their words personally. It's easy to get caught up in the emotional turmoil that can occur when someone is making fun of you but remind yourself that none of what they say is truly personal. Instead, the words indicate underlying hostility or provides the person with a brief, but false, sense of confidence. Try not to internalize the unkind and untrue words.
Elicit support from friends and family
Surround yourself with support as much as possible to help bolster your confidence. Usually the individual throwing the insults has problems with his own feelings of self worth and deflects his lack of confidence by projecting the problem on others. If the individual who is making fun of you is a current friend, consider discussing with them that their behavior towards you isn't what a friend should be doing. True friendship is based on mutual respect rather than undermining someone's self confidence.
Work on building confidence and self-esteem. The Council on Size and Weight Discrimination explains that in order to become less sensitive to the effects of someone making fun of you, it's vital that you walk and speak with confidence. Hold your head up high when walking which will help change how you feel inside. Confident individuals hold their shoulders back, their torso straight and make eye contact with someone else's. As a result, you'll also be received by others as more confident and less vulnerable.
Report the behavior to an appropriate authority figure such as a supervisor, director, or in serious cases law enforcement. Although this approach is often met with resistance for first or even second offenses, it's important to create a paper trail of the behavior if it doesn't change when addressed. Be factual in making your report and avoid suggesting a reason that the person might be making fun of you.
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- Direct confrontation of someone who is making fun of you isn't always possible, safe or realistic. In the case of someone who is in a position of authority such as a supervisor, protocol typically states that you should contact a Human Resources representative. If a coworker is making fun of you, contacting your mutual supervisor is the most commonly advised initial step. Outside of work, law enforcement may be necessary to intervene on the basis of harassment.
Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.
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