By Kimberly Edwards/Photo Credit: Danny Sellers
Pleasantries. Conduct. Manners. All societal norms that we uphold in our culture – things that we have to do in order to be perceived as good people with good moral standing and who seem to have control over their role in society?
But what do we do when we encounter adversaries in daily life? Most of the time, we’re cordial, which I completely believe in. I think it’s polite and, more importantly, wise, to hold your cards close to your chest and keep a straight face around those you may dislike, especially at work, or in situations where you’re being observed (family events, etc.).
Okay, so we addressed that, but what about any other time or those who we truly cannot stand?
The answer is – you can openly dislike them. You can tell whomever you please about these individuals and their behaviors that irk you. You can absolutely tell this person off from ghetto to ghetto, yard to yard.
You can if you want to, but you’re wasting your time.
I recently had an encounter after a huge milestone event that validated my feelings of disdain. I was MF tired. Irritated at this person’s behavior beyond words, it took all kinds of mental self-control to keep me from shaking as I almost threw a full-blown fit and took no prisoners along for the ride.
I could have done this. But what would it have done for me?! Absolutely nothing.
In an abridged version to save you from knowing about my personal life and relationships, a phone conversation shortly followed. With demands from this individual to talk “like adults” and have a phone conversation, I obliged – but the most I ended up getting to do in that conversation was dial the phone number.
I didn’t even get a “Hello” in before I heard all kinds of bullshit coming from this person. Harbored feelings of guilt, jealousy, self-loathing, and all kinds of shit to which I could have reacted because it all carried an undertone of, “You owe me respect,” but then, instead of blowing a fuse, a lightbulb went off in my mind.
I owed this person nothing. All of this loathing and energy that this person was projecting onto me was of no damage to anyone but him/herself. Really, in my silence, I did more than any reaction would have incurred.
I didn’t get the last word in. Shit, I got no words in because I just sat and listened to bitching and moaning for almost 15 minutes, almost none of which had to do with me.
What did I learn from this listening experience? It’s quite simple, actually. I can 100% be valid and justified in my dislike for this person, but this doesn’t mean that I have to tell the world about it, or anyone else, for that matter. Maybe a few confidants, but that’s it.
I owe that person nothing. Not a stitch of time, energy, or conversation. I’m grown and I don’t have to like that person and it’s that simple.
As we grow older and we develop relationships and careers and lives that can move us toward stability that we desire as young professionals, one of the biggest challenges of “growing up” can easily be the moment in which another person tests you, and how you govern yourself in that moment.
So, my best advice when standing in the face of an adversary (though I will say choose your battles wisely and if someone throws hands be ready to throw them right back), is to step back and listen.
- Is this person being serious?
- What does this person’s behavior or string of complaints have to do with your life, your paycheck, your friends, your family, etc.?
- Is this person doing anything to help you move forward in your life?
If you answered ‘no’ to any or all of the above questions, you can keep it moving. In fact, use this listening experience to know that this person may need some help or some other resources that you don’t need to help this person find. And finally, give yourself a pat on the back for showing resilience and stability in the face of hotheaded debauchery.
Bottom line is, reaffirm with yourself that this person tried to come for you when they should’ve sent for his or her damn self.