Thanks to Larry for your for your cross-cultural story of the most common cruel comment in modern times in your comment to the last “Cool Comebacks” post. It shows how quickly verbal taunts can ignite physical violence. Often people think the only way to stand their ground in their neighborhood or culture is some form of brutality. I’ll offer several examples of cool comebacks (CC) that empower without punching and bloody noses.
EXPLANATIONS will immediately follow each comeback describing which of the four (AAAH) responses have been used:
- Acting-as-if- it’s-all-good—admit, agree, compliment, gratitude.
- Asking questions—curious or hidden.
- Active listening—rephrase, name feelings or behavior, sympathizing, validate.
- Hidden suggestions—truism, false choice, underlying assumptions, reverse psychology, power words, random or unclear responses. Hidden suggestions are set off by ellipses and underscored.
CC1: Did you say I have mo jo? Thanks!
Bully: Oh no I didn’t!
CC2: Well, be careful you don’t let any of yours rub off on me.
EXPLAINATION: The first CC acts-as-if by misunderstanding the insult as a compliment and expressing gratitude before the question can be answered. The urban dictionary defines “mo jo” as self confidence and self assurance. Bullies don’t usually persist in the face of a cool comeback, but just in case bashing continues, a follow-up is given. The second CC also acts-as-if by complimenting the bully and plants a hidden suggestion that if the bully persists, something good will happen to his target, which is reverse psychology.
CC1: You must be on Macho Patrol….I’m not surprised.
Bully: What do you mean [menacing tone]?????
CC2: No one would want to mess with you.
EXPLAINATION: The first CC acts-as-if by complimenting the bully with the word “Macho” and then makes an unclear comment (I’m not surprised) that would make most people want to back off. But if the bully persisted, a compliment is used that the bully would not dare to refute.
CC: You should keep worrying about who’s who in fairyland until you know …there’s nothing to fear.
- Active listening is used to re-name the taunting behavior as worrying.
- Reverse psychology encourages continued “worrying,” giving the bully a choice to continue what he’s doing or to refuse to comply by stopping the taunting.
- A hidden suggestion is planted that there’s nothing to fear.
Bully: You gay-fer [the more modern version of this oppressive remark].
CC: Thank goodness you’re still on gay-watch. I thought… people don’t bother with that anymore.
EXPLAINATION: The word “gay-watch” is a play on Baywatch (the very successful, very heterosexual TV series), making it a hypnotic power word that focuses attention on the hidden suggestion that follows and confuses the issue. Next, a hidden suggestion implies that it is out-of-date to worry about sexual orientation.
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If you have found these examples of cool comebacks funny or confusing—good! Humor uses unexpected responses to derail aggression. Confusion creates a mild trance state that makes people receptive to change. Anyone is welcome to plagiarize these cool comebacks for personal use, and, undoubtedly, there are many more people, straight and gay, who have experienced various types of bashing. Cool comebacks are limitless.
For more information, please check out my books listed on this site: HOW TO HANDLE BULLIES TEASERS AND OTHER MEANIES; MAKING HOSTILE WORDS HARMLESS, and EMPOWERING DIALOGUES WITHIN (for the bullies in your brain).
~ Kate Cohen-Posey, MS LMHC LMFT
Remember to send verbatim “Cruel Comments” to me at
and I will post them here with suggested “Cool Comebacks!”