Have you ever had anyone at work say anything to you that was so absurdly inappropriate that, if you replied what you were actually thinking, you would lose your job? No? Ok. Me neither.
But, if you have, you really have to start working on ignoring people. I have found that, when you ignore someone who says something out of line, they drop the topic. Most of the time, they know they’re overstepping boundaries and, for those honest mistakes that we sometimes make because we simply didn’t think, being ignored gives us a second chance to think before repeating ourselves.
Now, if your superior (assuming that is the individual making the outrageous statements) thinks, repeats the insanity (because he thinks you may not have heard him when you didn’t respond at first), then you’re going to have to say something. So, say something like “Let me think about that some,” and then never bring the idiotic idea up again in person. Instead, send an email response. “Per our conversation earlier about me carrying your luggage to and from the car on trips from this point on, I think that would be a job better suited for the bellhop at the hotels we reside at.” And leave it at that. But start with the easy ignore. It has worked for me and many others.
Oh, if you want to ignore a remark so outlandish that the requester needs to know they just messed up, laugh at it and don’t say anything in direct response.
Everyone has a job to do and there is a hierarchy that you have to respect. But those in that hierarchy must respect you as well. If they don’t, send me an email and we’ll work on prepping you for a new position with a new organization.
And, leaders, if someone is ignoring you, take an honest inventory of your relationship with that person, and see what would make them not want to give you their all. If I truly like a boss, I will do small things that lie outside the relm of my responsiblity so that (s)he knows I appreciate working there.
Make professional development a priority.