Next up: self-defense training. Or a good long cry.
A while ago, I made a resolution to be more direct with people. This was not a new year’s resolution, or borne of any specific incident, so perhaps it wasn’t a resolution at all but more of a commitment to try, but there you have it.
When I say direct, I don’t mean aggressive. I specifically mean “not passive-aggressive.” I decided that I was going to opt out of passive-aggressive interactions in an effort to be more clear and straightforward. I was getting very tired of these conversations:
“You know, I’m so glad that we are friends, and I hope that you know that if there’s anything, really, anything, that’s ever bothering you, you can always come to me because our friendship is important to me and I hope it is to you, too.”
Translation: “You hurt my feelings and I want you to apologize.”
I decided to skip the crap and go straight for the apology. This seems like good practice, right?
So yesterday, someone suggested to me in an email that I had been less-than-honest in my dealings with a charity auction that is held at the law school. (Side note: who cheats a charity auction? I mean, seriously?) Following my new “cut the crap” model, I took the high road, responded directly, claimed the prize I believed was rightfully mine, and thought that was the end of it.
I was wrong. I got another email, this one even more thinly veiled, suggesting that there had been shady dealings and I had come by a prize that I won at this auction in a less than honest way. (Side note #2: remember the part where I said that this was a charity auction? Yeah, so I bid MORE MONEY than this person, and this person WORKS FOR THE CHARITY. As I see it, he should be more interested in the charity getting the money than in himself getting the prize. But I digress.) I responded with a very direct email, to this effect: “it sounds like you’re accusing me of cheating. I don’t like that. Let’s take this up with the auction board and both agree to be bound by their decision.”
Feeling kind of proud, I sent this second, even more direct email, silently congratulating myself on keeping my emotions out of it, not being passive aggressive, not allowing myself to be bullied into giving up something that I thought was rightfully mine, not apologizing when I wasn’t sorry, etc. I was pleased with this email.
Then I got a third email. It said: “sorry if I sounded accusatory, it’s yours. Take it.”
That should make me happy, right? My cut the crap model is working! I asserted myself, to good result! I wasn’t rude! What huge progress! I should be totally convinced of the wisdom of my new model for directness!
Instead, I felt bitchy for not having included any nice, soft, apologetic language in my email, and worried that I came off sounding like a bully, and spent an hour making John reassure me that no, I am not a bitch.
Baby steps, people.