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How to Handle an Offensive Comment from a Friend

Sometimes a friend is abrasive and offensive because they think you're aligned with them. Handle your discomfort when a friend makes an inappropriate comment by being the friend they need, rather than the co-conspirator they want.


  • Step 1: Teach them Counter ignorant comments by not supplying the supportive reactions the offender was seeking. Should it appear that your friend is merely insecure or jealous rather than malicious, you can use the discomfort as a teachable moment.
  • TIP: Rude critics want to embarrass and hurt others to build their self-esteem.
  • Step 2: Think first Think about what you want to say and choose your words, restraining yourself in the heat of the moment before you speak. Get your point across clearly without attacking the person.
  • TIP: Erupting in anger will distract them from the point your trying to make.
  • Step 3: Soften the message Let your friend know you accept they might harbor unconscious prejudices. Soften the message and leave the door open for a friend to redeem themselves.
  • Step 4: Stand your ground Stand your ground, rather than being silent and backing down to keep the peace. Ignoring or minimizing offensive remarks can unintentionally convey a tacit approval to the offender.
  • Step 5: Express disappointment If they continue to say offensive things or defend their original comment, be direct. Ask them to stop saying offensive things in your presence.
  • Step 6: Agree to disagree Agree to disagree and find another topic of interest if it's clear you can't get anywhere right now. Try using humor to distract your friend from their offensive remarks. Ultimately, you must decide if the friendship is worth continuing.
  • FACT: The famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr took place because Hamilton spoke against Burr at a dinner party. When Burr heard that Hamilton had disparaged him, he challenged him to a duel.

You Will Need

  • Willingness to teach
  • Restraint
  • Directness

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