So you've just been abused by a colleague, boss, client or member of the public? It's only human to want to respond in kind: make your own accusations, shout back, or send out a group email 'correction' with a few barbs of your own.

There's a better way. It will enhance your reputation and help to get you back on track.

Outflank your accuser with your professionalism

An understated, calm response will allow you to capture what one of our politicians likes to call 'the moral high ground'. More important, in a few weeks, most people will have forgotten the details, but remembered your demeanour. Reply in anger and they'll remember two kids with toys and cots.

Remember to give yourself the credit for rising above criticism or abuse. You're the adult in the conflict.

An example of professionalism in a television interview

I remember, many years ago, seeing a television interview with a business leader. A newspaper had claimed that the business leader had made some highly inflammatory comments about New Zealand. When the television interviewer raised the newspaper article, the businessman just smiled and said, 'That was a story that lost nothing in the telling'. Enough said. Low-key, relaxed. The interviewer moved on to other things.

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