What to do if you feel disrespected at college

What to do if you feel disrespected

When someone says or does something that makes you feel disrespected, you may not know how to react. You’ll likely have a ton of questions whirring through your mind, like “Is that what they really meant?” or “How do I respond?” or “Should I say anything?” It can be overwhelming and upsetting and leave you wondering what your next steps should be. We’re here to help. 

Check their intention

First thing’s first: you need to determine whether the person who disrespected you did so intentionally or not. It’s a good idea to err on the side of assuming the disrespect was unintentional. This doesn’t mean that what they said doesn’t hurt you — it just sets you up for how best to handle the situation. 

Check your reaction

Take a moment to step back and do a quick analysis on why you felt disrespected. Did the person hit a nerve or touch on something that’s personal to you? Consider whether or not the other person knew this before they spoke, or if clarifying this would open their eyes to why you reacted to their comment or action. 

Remember to consider the person speaking, and what they’re going through personally. Put yourself in their shoes and try to empathize with the person who made the comment or action. Are they under a lot of stress or in a specific situation that may have caused them to snap unintentionally? You’re not making excuses for them — this just may change your perspective and how you handle things.

How to resolve your situation

First, you have to decide what you’re comfortable with when it comes to confronting this person. Do you want to speak to them about it in person, or would you rather try another, less direct tactic? 


If you’re comfortable speaking to the person directly, go for it. But remember a few things first.

  1. Take a deep breath. You don’t want to go in hot and risk saying something you don’t mean, or worse — disrespecting the other person right back. 

  2. Remember, you’re here for resolution, not revenge.

  3. Decide on your desired outcomes before you start talking. If you just want to let them know they hurt you so they are aware, do just that. If you want them to remedy the situation, consider how that would be possible for you. 

  4. Stay calm. Keeping your head in this situation is paramount. You want to express yourself and be heard without going off the rails.


If you want to take a non confrontational approach, try kindness. If you’re not ready to say something to their face, it’s good practice to come from a place of understanding. You can also do something kind for someone else. Being nice to others is a great way to make you feel better about yourself.  

While it’s best to confront some situations face-to-face, if this is a severe case of disrespect we recommend that you talk to someone. Consider speaking about it to your First-Year Success coach, your CA, ASU Counseling Services or a family member. Always go to an authority figure if it’s warranted (like if you’re being bullied or harassed). If you’re not sure if it’s serious or not, ask one of these trusted individuals for guidance. 

Online disrespect

A lot of disrespect can happen in online communities. Commenting and subtweeting can get out of hand quickly. But before you start typing your feelings, remember that what happens online, stays online. And what you post is more of a reflection on you, than the person you’re responding to. Our advice for online trolls? Block, unfollow or just click away. 

Have you had a tough situation that you’ve dealt with? Let us know if you have any questions or need someone to talk to and we’ll put you in touch with someone who can help.

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