How to be shaded? Use a PLUG

We’ve all received unprovoked hate: Backhanded compliments and passive aggressive put downs, or “shade.” When people choose to be unkind without provocation, it might be a force of habit or hard wiring. Before I continue, I should say that like Britney, I’m not that innocent. I enjoy throwing shade at human energy drinkers, but only after they start with me.

In case someone you didn’t start something with goes out of their way to stomp on your joy, I wrote this post for you. By now you’re SMART (Sombre, Masterful, Attentive, Respectful, Tyrannical) about being hated. Often, tyranny is not the best option when in combat with Darth Shader. This post introduces a positive, self affirming response. To PLUG, we play, laugh, understand and grow from interactions with H8Rz.

Here we go? Let us PLUG.

Stay calm and PLUG
I love this meme. x SB

Play along
When the shade hits the fan, there are three ways you can play along. If you ignore unwelcome remarks, H8Rz will take this as a sign they’ve struck a nerve and dig in. So first,  keep a neutral expression and ask for repetition. (My neutral expression is a smile). I have a “third time and it’s yours” rule. I ask for repetition two times to see if the person will hear how their words sound.

If the person does not give up after the second repeat, I ask for clarification. Neutral expressions again. Defending yourself won’t work, either. If they haven’t given up at this stage, or try again later, they’ve owned it by default and I can do the third thing: Deliberately misunderstand, or get tyrannical.

For the former tactic, rephrase the statement to mean something positive about yourself. Toss it back. You will hear, “I didn’t mean to compliment you.” Say, “Thank you.” As in, “This interaction is over and thank you for your attention.” If the behaviour is repeated, that is hate and it’s time to put the T in SMART.

Laugh at yourself
Embrace the things that are uniquely you. See “shade” as acknowledgment that someone finds you interesting. Your sense of humour could win you admirers and defenders. One day, someone teased me with, “Hey, you’re walking like a pigeon.” It’s true, but that detail is inconsequential to anything happening in my day.

I played along by pretending this was a compliment. I laughed and said, “Thank you!” A different person piped in with, “Actually, she’s catwalking.” When you laugh at yourself, others may feel encouraged to warm to your side. Shine in confidence and leave haters in the shade.

You “love thyself” and your emotional set points are high. People who put you down without provocation have lower emotional set points. They may feel they’re doing you a favour. They believe that by pulling you off your perch they’ll help you avoid disappointment.

Resist the urge to adjust your emotions or responses to the lower setting. Also understand that H8Rz notice and admire your natural talent. Instead of doing their own work, they sling mud to throw you off your game. Stay focused.

Grow from it
Hanging on to unkind words can set you back. However, reflect on unpleasant interactions and think about how you want to be treated.  Then, set a better example by doing unto others. Make the effort to recognise negative characters and avoid them. Sometimes, you need to shine light on a person to see them for who they are.

I hope you’ll never need this advice. But if someone tosses shade your way, your objective is to firmly push back the disrespectful behaviour while keeping your hands clean. Play along and laugh to yourself but show some compassion and you will grow from the experience.


Life is short, so let’s be decent.

45 replies on “How to be shaded? Use a PLUG”

Thank you so much for coming over so quickly after I posted. I was wondering how you’d feel about the impromptu shout out but you helped me a lot with that comment and I wanted to show my appreciation. Here are some hugs for your weekend. xoxoxoxo

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Exactly… For example, making it something funny and entertaining annoys them and now I’m in the driver’s seat. I’m like, “Watch me not react to your facial contortions.” Covering my ears works best, actually. xoxo

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Yes! Some sage advice I would have benefited from in my high school years. I took it all to heart and fell to pieces.
I’m a different person now and though hurtful words/actions sting to the quick, my poker face has improved.
A friend once told me that the best response to unkind people is simply no response at all. To take away the smug satisfaction of having struck a nerve can foil further ill intentions.
It still resonates with me – mind, if you are me, it takes tremendous strength to hold your tongue and/or walk away. But I am getting better at appearing unfazed.
I have another friend who is incredibly adept at dishing it right back, on full serve! I hang around him as much as he will tolerate.

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I’m glad you have such lovely defenders, mGm. I am too well mannered for my own good at times, and I like hearing people dish it back. I am like you, too. I feel I just have to respond, so it’s really hard to just let it go, but at work, the no response and smile tactic is quite effective, because professionally, certain things will stick. x

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With trolls, my strategy is to agree with them in terms dripping with subtle passive/aggressive polite sarcasm, and respond with genuine honesty. “Oh thanks. I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks for the great input.” They can’t handle it. I’m used to dealing with trolls in meatworld, and this tactic seems to work. The troll usually backs down, but when he/she doesn’t, everyone knows who the a-hoe is.

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I had to come back and comment again after reading what Renee wrote. Oftentimes people in the medical profession can be real shady, especially when they can’t correctly diagnose the problem. It’s sad and frustrating. So glad your athletes have people who treat them with respect.

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I feel really proud when I see people acting with compassion. Shade is everywhere but when people are down, it’s time to lift them up. Thanks for coming back. You’re always welcome.

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That’s unbelievable how people choose to behave. It takes almost no effort to be patient and show some compassion for others. I work with people who are good at sports and get injured at times. It’s hard on them already so we all adjust and get on with our day. I’m sorry to hear that you are injured and I wish you all the best for your recovery.

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Great post! I was too busy to comment earlier haha…

Deliberately misunderstanding the meaning of their insults can throw them off, and if they are perceptive enough, they should know better than to persist on antagonizing you. However, on several occasions, this is not the case.

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Thanks for coming back to comment. The deliberate misunderstanding really works because they realise that they’ve missed your trigger point. I know what you mean about the persistence issue. I do the direct eye stare with no response and that has always worked. Also, some people don’t know who passive aggressive they are, and will never stop. So, in that case, I avoid them. x

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Avoiding them is the best course of action for me as well because I really don’t have the time to confront them. Though if they continue to annoy me despite of that, then they will surely hear some “words of wisdom” from me.

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It applies in all cases. I realise it is better for me to treat people with respect while saying no to anything untoward. I don’t want an air of negativity around me and I find that this strategy leaves it all in one place.

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