Some of the best ways to handle vicious insults include accepting the remark as constructive criticism, responding with humor, and completely ignoring the bully and the insult, according to Psychology Today. When the target chooses the response, he turns the tables on the bully and takes control of the situation.
Accepting the insult gives time to consider who said it and whether it was true, notes Psychology Today. If the target finds a thread of truth in the insult, he gets to decide what, if anything, to do about it. This sometimes helps when the remark comes from a friend, a relative or a teacher.
Sometimes, humor makes a good response to a particularly mean insult because it relieves tension as it undermines the insult, and it cheerfully mocks the bully, explains Psychology Today. If others are present, a good quip might amuse and draw them in. It might be funny to say, "You apparently don't know me very well. My friends know a lot worse things about me."
Reacting emotionally to a mean insult lets the bully feel in control, but intentionally ignoring the insult takes away his control over the situation, states Psychology Today. Ignoring tells the bully that he is so insignificant that his insults are not worth noticing. For example, if the bully tries to apologize for the "ignored" insult, a good response is a casual, "I did not hear you say that." Then, just as casually, change the subject.