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‘Spider-Man’ Star Tom Holland’s Response to Kirsten Dunst Teaches a Major Lesson in Emotional Intelligence

Rather than get baited into a war of words, the 21-year-old delivered an admirable response.

Image credit: Gage Skidmore, via flickr
Image credit: Gage Skidmore, via flickr

Spider-Man: Homecoming, the recent film reboot of one of the world’s most beloved comic books, is an official hit. Loved by fans and critics alike, some are calling it one of the best superhero movies in years.

But not everyone feels that way.

Kirsten Dunst, who played Peter Parker love interest Mary-Jane Watson in three previous Spider-Man films (opposite Toby Maguire), was recently asked for her opinion on Homecoming in an interview with the U.K. edition of Marie Claire.

“We made the best ones, so who cares,” said Dunst. “I’m like, ‘You make it all you want.’ They’re just milking that cow for money. It’s so obvious. You know what I mean?”

It’s too easy for an interviewee’s words to get taken out of context or for a sound bite to lose its true meaning, so I’m not here to critique Dunst’s quote. But it was only a matter of time before the comment made it back to Homecoming‘s star, Tom Holland.

In a recent interview with Movie’n’co UK, Holland was asked what he thought about Dunst’s comments, and his response was perfect:

I read it and I saw it…and you know, she’s entitled to her own opinion and I’m not one to judge at all. I definitely am not doing this movie for the money. I mean, it’s a job that I think anyone would do regardless of what you were getting paid, you know? All I know is I had the greatest time on this movie and I absolutely loved it and, you know, if she doesn’t want to go and see it, I don’t really care. I don’t dislike her in any way for what she said and she’s entitled to her own opinion, so it’s all cool.

Bravo, Spidey.

Why this response is so great.

Every day you’ll be met with what you may interpret as a thoughtless comment. It could be a simple misunderstanding; or it could be something said out of the heat of the moment, that the other person would take back if possible.

It’s easy to take comments like this personally.

Don’t.

Doing so is self-defeating: As you sit and fume, you distract yourself from more productive thoughts and actions. Even worse, you put yourself in a mood that may progressively get worse, until you’re consumed with the negative remark–while the other person doesn’t even know he or she has said something to offend you.

In contrast, Holland’s response shows emotional intelligence, the ability to make feelings and emotions work for you (instead of against you).

With a few short sentences, Holland manages to:

  • avoid getting baited into a meaningless fight with a fellow actor (one he may end up working with someday);
  • make his own thoughts and intentions known, clearly stating that he loved playing the part and that money was not his primary motivation; and
  • defuse the situation and make sure there are no hard feelings moving forward.

In a world where anger seems to be the prevailing emotion, Holland’s response is refreshing. (Did I mention he’s only 21 years old?)

So, the next time a negative comment makes it back to you, resist the urge to dwell on it or take offense. Instead, stay focused on what’s important to you.

That’s a real-life super power you can use.

So let’s thank Spider-Man for showing us how it’s done.

Enjoy this post? My book, EQ Applied, has tons of stories just like this one that illustrate what emotional intelligence looks like in everyday life.

A version of this article originally appeared on Inc.com.

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