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Increasing Self-Esteem/Talking back against negative people


Hello Zorka,
I would like to improve my ability to speak up vocally when others say hurtful things. How do I draw the line between what's acceptable and what's not when it comes to what people say to you or about you?

I have trouble in this because I've always been a conflict-avoidant person. I don't like to lose control or be angry. And I hate being regarded as sensitive. I think that's why I end up trying to ignore what others say to me instead of saying something back. If I stand up for myself, I feel like I run the danger of coming across as "being offended for no good reason". If I do not, then I suffer inside.

I think people use a variety of ways to hurt other people through words. For example, I have this friend who belittles my career, makes negative comments about the place I live, even the country I am from. Most of the times, I try to ignore these comments but I've realized that being conflict-avoidant and not saying anything to this person is not going to help.  

I also think I am this way due to my upbringing. In Asian culture where I am from, due to the influence of philosophies like Buddha and Tao, I think being "conflict-avoidant" is somewhat praised and respected. But I think it is time for me to learn exactly what I need to do when others challenge me with hurtful words.

What are your thoughts and how should I improve myself in the future? Thank you, Zorka.

Hi Karsen,

I'm sure you've heard the saying that it's not what happens to you, or in this case, is said about you, but how you 'choose' to react to it. You could choose to ignore the negative comments of rude, ignorant people and know that their rudeness says more about them than it does you.

What decent person belittles someone's career or their ethnicity if they are comfortable with who they are? That type of rudeness comes from their own insecurity and sense of inadequacy. People who are happy with themselves are kind, helpful and accepting. They don't judge others and they see everyone as worthy and as having a right to exist.

The truth is: you don't have to be confrontational. You can just walk away and consider the source. You have nothing to be ashamed of or defend to anyone else. Anyone that rude is not worthy of a response. They have forfeited their rights to acknowledgement from you. The Asian philosophies are filled with wisdom for good reason.

All the best to you!

Increasing Self-Esteem

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Zorka Hereford


I can answer questions pertaining to a healthy self-concept, personal development and how to think critically about your life choices.


I've written a book "9 Essential Life Skills - A Guide for Personal Development and Self-Realization". I worked a combined twenty years for a top financial institution and a number one communications company where I acquired excellent leadership and training and development skills.

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Visit my website at to read my many personal development articles.

I've obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree with studies in philosophy and psychology as well as a college Business Management Diploma.

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