Careers: 3 Ways to Handle Disrespect Like a FLOTUS

Jasmine Browley

Oh Michelle Obama, how I love thee.   Let me count the ways. Beauty and grace personified in every fluid move you make and every well pronounced syllable you utter. Including these gems:

“Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.

During a recent speech given at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Washington DC, the FLOTUS was rudely interrupted on more than one occasion by a passionate yet foolish woman. Apparently, she who will remain nameless (I don’t want to give her anymore shine by including her name–Google if you’re curious) thought it appropriate to scream at the top of her lungs about an executive order for gay and lesbian rights, and was promptly and directly confronted by the First Lady.

Unlike her notoriously patient and practiced husband, the born and bred south side Chi-town girl let it be known that she is not the one to be trifled with without hurling insults, raising her voice or showing any semblance of disrespect in return. Let us learn from this unfortunate show of ignorance, shall we?

Here are 3 things that I learned from our First Lady about how to deal with disrespect in a graceful yet forceful manner.

1. Do not wait.

Seize the opportunity to address the antagonizer while the disrespect is still fresh in your mind.

Although I would normally advise the opposite–to wait and simmer down– there are certain instances where a cooling off period will lessen the legitimacy of your issue. If you wait until that person has disrespected you, walked away, and left you festering in your own anger, that anger can sometimes manifest and ultimately turn into bitterness or, even worse, complacency. Just like how Mrs. Obama immediately stopped her speech and delivered her quips to the heckler as opposed to addressing it later in a well-worded blog post or scheduled talk show appearance, you should nip the disrespect in the bud quickly as well.

2. Address the ‘disrespect-er’ directly.

I know us nice people are uncomfortable with confrontation, but if you should avoid confronting the ‘disrespect-er’ through a third party messenger and go to the person yourself. The FLOTUS knelt to confront her heckler face-to-face and addressed her, as opposed to indirectly addressing the woman with a general announcement about heckling, which would have spared her embarrassment and any real accountability,. And by doing addressing the disrespect one-on-one the FLOTUS made sure that the woman had no misunderstanding as to who she was speaking to; this also gave her the opportunity to directly respond to Mrs. Obama’s concerns, so there would be no miscommunication.

I can personally attest to the fact that this will catch your ‘disrespect-er’ off guard, and force them to deal with the problem head-on, whether they like it or not.

3. Come to your own resolution.

The FLOTUS made it clear that she was not going to talk over the heckler and continue to allow her message to be disrupted; she resolved to walk off the stage unless the ‘disrespect-er’ ceased and desisted. Follow the same stern protocol. Present your issue, communicate your opinion clearly, listen to the opposing party and come to your own conclusion about an effectively remedy and….then do it!


4. Kill them with undeserved respect in return.

It’s super hard, but you have to be the bigger person and avoid returning the same disrespect that burned you. The fastest way to escalate a bad situation to the worst situation is by lowering yourself to a level that is well beneath you.

Like Mrs. Obama, keep your tone even yet demanding, refrain from using derogatory and amateurish language, and keep your head held high. Everyone knows that the most effective “shade” is delivered with a smile. 😉

Writer, editor, lover of music and nappy hair, entertainment journalist Jasmine Browley has two blogs ( and, dozens of freelance contributions {including Uptown Magazine}, and is known to keep her ear to the ground, and her pen to paper.

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