There’s nothing as humiliating as “the public reprimand.” We see parents do it to their children, husbands to wives, significant others to each other, even dog owners to their dogs, as the poor animals slink away with their tail between their legs, heads bowed filled with shame and sadness.
It’s uncomfortable to watch, let alone be on the receiving end. Whether we’ve done it loud or soft, direct or indirect, in front of friends or strangers, we’ve all been guilty of giving a public reprimand. It’s ugly, it’s cowardly and it’s mean. So why do we do it?
The primary reason we give a public reprimand is simple; we feel absolutely powerless to affect any real change on our own. We turn to the general public to look for outside support; any witness will do, a friend, passerby, the grocery clerk, the bank teller. A knowing look, a look of shock, surprise, disdain, fear or basically, anything at all from an outside observer is a validation of our existence and reality.
Most of us learned to deliver public reprimands by receiving them as children. We were publicly shamed, humiliated, belittled and rejected. If you have a tendency to deliver public reprimands as an adult, chances are you were publicly reprimanded regularly.
Beware the hidden public reprimand. You may not think you do this but the public reprimand can be subtly delivered. Name calling is fairly overt but subtle put downs and teasing, can be forms of a public reprimand.
When you feel an urge to insult, here’s what to do:
- Ask yourself “how important is it?” Can I let this go?
- If not, you may have a valid complaint. Kindly ask your friend/relative to step aside and privately and calmly discuss with them what’s bugging you.
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. If someone had this same complaint about you, how would you find it most productive to have a heartfelt conversation to resolve the issue?
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