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Do you ever have one of those days where you’re going along just fine, having a totally pleasant afternoon and then all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, someone says or does something to you that just ruins the whole thing? Either they hurt your feelings, or make you feel small, or angry.
Of course you have. Because, unfortunately, that kind of interaction is almost impossible to avoid these days (what with so many forms of communication, both in person and online).
It sucks. And not just because you’re now angry or hurt.
It sucks that the person felt like it was ok to treat you like that, and it sucks that you had the reaction that you did – that you let it affect you so much.
That happened to me the other day. And while I tend to think of myself as a pretty strong woman, who doesn’t easily take crap from other people…. I just took it. I tried to be professional, and I felt like I wasn’t in a position to ‘talk back’ or defend myself for fear of further angering my ‘assailant’.
But then, for the rest of the afternoon, I was really upset. I found it hard to smile at people, I didn’t want to make small talk, and I definitely didn’t want to go above and beyond like I normally do.
My internal dialogue was a mix of talking my self down from my anger, telling myself not to take it personally, and reminding myself that I’m a good person who deserves fair treatment.
And I’m sure that’s the case with a lot of other people in plenty of similar situations – a boss or a parent, maybe even a significant other (though, gosh I hope not) uses their authority or status to make other people feel … well, shitty.
It reminded me of this podcast I was listening to the other day that had the most interesting line:
“There are two ways to build the biggest building – you can just build the biggest building. OR you can tear everyone else’s building down” – Gary Vaynerchuk
And that’s exactly what this person was doing to me – they weren’t “leading by example”, no… they were leading in a way that tore other people down, and unfortunately for me, I was the person standing in front of their bulldozer.
My next interaction with that person confirmed some of my internal self-talk – they were upset about something else and that probably contributed to the aggression towards me. But there was still no apology and there was still no difference in how it made me feel at the time that it happened.
I continually come into contact with people who think the most effective way to make themselves look good is to tear other people down. Whether they’re tearing me down, or tearing other people down, they’re doing it in an effort to make themselves look better by comparison. (Or they’re just an asshole, I guess.)
How did we get to this? Why is this an acceptable form of leadership or interaction amongst each other?
That’s a trick question of course, because it’s not acceptable, is it? Not really – it’s just been normalized.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers here – I don’t even have much for advice on how to handle the situation, except to say this: Remember that in most cases, it’s not about you – it’s about them; their anger, their insecurities, and their ineffectiveness. Try your best to stay positive. Remind yourself that you deserve better and when you’re able, consider talking to the person and letting them know you expect better.
“Good leaders sacrifice for others to survive; bad leaders sacrifice others to survive” – Saji Ijiyemi
And please, please try to lead by example. Be mindful of your actions and your leadership style. Be aware of your words, your tone of voice, and the example you’re setting for those around you.
Just build the biggest building, don’t tear other buildings down.
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