- Stop, look and backtrack ("Did you just call me stupid?")
- Ask "searchlight" questions ("When you say x, what are you really trying to say?")
- Go on grievance patrol (by requesting a private meeting with anyone who might be harboring a grudge). "If the grievance is just," says Brinkman, "acknowledge its validity and admit to a mistake." Then say something like "If you ever have a problem with me again, I encourage you to come and talk."
Carter agrees that it's best to take the attacker to the side: "People who embarrass you in front of a group use the group for their power." When you go one-on-one, "the person learns to have respect for you because she knows you'll confront her." He suggests that after you corner the antagonist, you say, "Do that to me again and I will have a little surprise for you." If she ignores your warning and tries it once more, greet her with: "There you go again trying to embarrass me in front of everyone. Can't you think of a more professional way to handle yourself?"
Next: Learn how to defend yourself from the attack