How do you deal with people who offend you?

I'm sure I'm not the only one who sends my kid to martial arts classes for more than just the exercise.

We are blessed to have a number of great dojos in my town, including the one where my son goes. In yesterday's "mat chat" at the end of class, the sensei talked about a good way to disarm someone who criticizes you: simply disagree.

For example, if someone tells you your hair looks stupid, you can say, "I don't think so. I actually really like my hair!" And it takes all the fun out of picking on you.

Notice that you're not telling the other person they are wrong. You are not criticizing them for being mean. In fact, you're not turning the focus toward them at all. You're just sharing what's true for you, because your perspective is valid.

The trick, of course, is to know what is true for you -- what you believe, what you care about, how you want to see yourself, and how you want to be in the world. Otherwise, it's all too easy for other people to knock you off balance and distract you with their agenda.

All of this is part of the skill of setting boundaries, and it is something we adults need to practice, too.

By now, most of us have learned not to directly criticize people to their faces, but that hardly keeps us from saying things that can be taken as offensive or threatening. And we can easily find ourselves in conversations where we feel offended -- by someone's political views, religious beliefs, parenting style, or anything else that just feels different and wrong to us.

How, in those situations, do you disarm potential conflict without hiding what's true for you?

How do you maintain your boundaries?

How do you simply disagree?

I would love to hear what you've learned about this in your own life. What kinds of approaches have worked for you? How have you become more skillful over time? Where are you still challenged? What else might help?

Thanks, as always, for sharing.