Here's a sutta about an ideal way to respond to being "abused and criticized in foul and harsh words, reviled":
Akkosa Sutta: Insult
I think I interpret it literally, i.e. if someone uses harsh words I see it as a statement about their state of mind.
You can maybe take it too far, e.g. if I irritate you and you tell me so, it may be wrong of me to assume that irritation is all your fault.
Nevertheless I think's it's a good sutta.
I'm rather struck by one of the statements in it, though:
Knowing that the other man is angry,
He mindfully maintains his peace
And endures the anger of both,
His own, as well as of the other
I think that's saying that when you converse with someone who is angry, then you yourself will feel some anger. I'm not sure why that's so, whether it's a selfish reaction ("how dare he?!") or a sympathetic reaction.
- Try to behave toward others in a way that doesn't occasion their anger
Keep to this kind of behaviour:
Even so, brahman, you are abusing us who do not abuse, you are angry with us who do not get angry, you are quarreling with us who do not quarrel.
And avoid engaging in this kind of behaviour:
When, brahman, one abuses back when abused, repays anger in kind, and quarrels back when quarreled with, this is called, brahman, associating with each other and exchanging mutually. This association and mutual exchange we do not engage in
If you feel anger then mindfully maintain your peace and endure it.
He alone wins the battle hard to win.
He promotes the weal of both,
His own, as well as of the other.