A few weeks ago, I decided to start a series of posts about body confidence from the perspective of a tall person. My article on educating our children about being tall reached an amazing number of hits and shares on Facebook, which showed me it may have hit a nerve for many parents.
Today, I will share my ideas and strategies for dealing with comments about our height. To start with, let’s look at the bright side. The darker one will be tackled in a future post.
So, How To React To Comments About Your Height?
Rule No 1. Don’t Snap
Suppress the urge to fire back and observe the situation. Chances are not everyone who makes a comment about your height means to offend you. A lot of people are genuinely amazed by how tall someone is. At the age of 42, I never stop hearing comments of all sorts, and still I wouldn’t say my reaction is always the best. I’d say it depends on what kind of a day I am having as well as my current levels of patience. Note to my readers: I am not a patient person! Snapping has become a second nature to me, as far as my height is concerned, so when I say “Don’t fire back”, I do realise this could take some effort. And constant practice.
Sometimes you do need to be firm and aggressive, but not that often. So start nice – unless you are given a clear reason not to.
Rule No 2. Analyse The Other Person
Take a deep breath (or two, or a few) before you react. Look at the person who talks to you and analyse them. Do you know them? If yes, you should be able to judge how serious they are by their body language. If they are strangers but look friendly, there is no need to confront them. Stay cool.
Rule No 3. Positive Approach
Last time I had to deal with a comment about my height was only a few days ago. I had to provide training for a very nice (and very short) colleague at work: definitely not the kind of situation when you want to snap or make a comeback! Still, she genuinely (and annoyingly) gasped: “God, you are tall!” I could have come up with a hundred and one sharp responses (honestly, there was nothing more original for her to say??), but made myself bite my tongue and suppress the urge to snap back. After all, this is how you build your networks at work (and life in general). I smiled as an acknowledgement of her reaction – without any further comment. Ignored it in a nice way and got on with the job in hand. At the end of our meeting she said how lovely it was to have met me.
Rule No 4. Be Nice
Everyone likes being treated with respect. The rule to obide by is: “It is nice to be nice”. Remember that most of your friends, relatives, acquaintances, work colleagues are short, so, whether you like it or not, you are different. Be prepared for comments and adopt a generally positive approach. If you are nice to people, they will see beyond your look and may not even feel the need to acknowledge your height. Who knows, they may end up being good friends to you, so treat them as you would like to be treated yourself.
Rule No 5. Don’t Be Afraid Of Comebacks
Just make sure they are appropriate for the situation. The other person is joking: so why not joke back? Use your creativity, be cheeky and funny. If nothing else comes to mind, use one of the many popular humourous comebacks (I will gather these in a later post, so watch this space). My usual one is: “My parents used to put fertiliser in my shoes”. Guarantees a smile on the other person’s face. Funny (and not meant as snappy!) comebacks can be good ice-breakers, and can create a relaxed environment. Just make sure that the comeback matches your partner and the situation. Key word is “appropriate”!
Rule No 6. Make The Most Of The Situation
If possible, try to use the situation in your favour. They may have tensed things up with an inappropriate comment, but by rising above it you can break the awkward silence and put things right again. Or you can make people laugh and take your side, while the other person feels slightly ashamed of themselves. If their comment wasn’t appropriate, show them what a good person you are and make them want to make it up to you. What is the worst that can happen? And what is the best?
Rule No 7. When Necessary, Fire Back – Tastefully
If this simply cannot be helped, do fire back. Just try to do it in a controlled and cool manner. Remember: spitting at them and looking down with despice is not cool. A cheeky grin (no matter how much you are boiling on the inside!) and a question: “Do you play mini golf?” could just about do the trick. And once the situation has calmed down, think. Did you do something to provoke the comment? If yes, analyse and learn your lesson. If not, rise above it. Haters will hate.
Rule No 8. Read My Next Post About Tall Comebacks
For ideas on how to fire back at haters, I will refer to the extensive discussions from tall people’s Facebook groups. Keep your eyes peeled: enjoyment guaranteed!