We often hear words like bossy, rude, and mean tossed around when someone says something we don’t like. Many times these words are being used out of context, and what is actually happening is that someone is being assertive or honest and it makes us uncomfortable. When someone uses their voice to express something we don’t like we label it as a bad thing to mask our discomfort.
To build trust in relationships we have to allow people to be open and honest with us. Most people would say those are important aspects of a relationship, but when people actually are, we don’t receive it well.
People say things like “speaking up for yourself is great,” but our actions contradict that. When people speak up to us, we say it’s mean, or rude. Our words are saying we want people to be honest, but do we really?
What is actually happening when people are being labeled this way? Did they yell at us? Did they say what they said in front of a bunch of people? Typically that is not the case. If someone tells us they don’t want to come to our party, that doesn’t make them rude, they’re just speaking their truth.
I have been called rude for not liking potato salad. I don’t like mayo on my potatoes. That’s not rude, that’s just my preference. Declining a request, disagreeing, or telling someone something you think might be helpful in your interactions, is not disrespectful.
When we label people this way, often what’s really going on is that our feelings have been hurt. When we label someone rude, what we’re really saying is “That made me sad,” or “I don’t quite feel adequate when you highlight those things about me.” Sometimes what we’re saying is, “I can’t handle the truth.”
It's our ego. It is hard to hear commentary about ourselves sometimes. I was reading some reviews about my book, Set Boundaries, Find Peace the other day. Most of the reviews were good, but there was one that said I support ghosting in my book, and I found myself shouting at the screen shouting “No I don’t!”
To be clear, I acknowledge the existence of ghosting and why it happens, but I don’t advocate it. It is a part of relationships. Sometimes we don’t know how to end things, so we just stop calling people.
I know what I said, and I know what I meant, but when I saw that review I got really defensive. Then I had to talk myself down. I said, “Nedra, look, this person probably has a whole story that you do not know, and their interpretation of this is based on them and not what you wrote in this book. They are not rude. Get yourself a cup of tea and move on.”
The next time you find yourself offended after someone has said something to you, consider what they’re actually saying. Is it meant to harm or hurt you, or are they just talking? We have to be willing to really listen to people.
“Why Your Kid’s Bad Behavior May Be a Good Thing”, by Melinda Wenner Moyer in the New York Times.
“Co-Parenting With A Narcissist?: 7 Tips to Make it Work and Support Your Child”, by Stephanie Barnes on Mind Body Green.
Just Mercy, a film based on Bryan Stevenson’s book of the same name starring Jamie Foxx and Michael B Jordan, is a movie that truly inspires compassion. You can watch it on HBOMax.
How do you handle the truth?
How do you respond when someone tells you something that is uncomfortable or difficult for you to hear?
Do you think you have a response that invites people to be honest with you?
Check out my class with Skillshare: Reach Your Goals: 7 Personal Development Exercises to Build a Life You Love
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