Silence is an answer too
You can think what you want but it’s never a good idea to say just what you want.
There are many lessons my gran has taught me in life. In my former years it has always been what to do in life. These days the lessons are what not to do in life. She’s ageing and even though I love her dearly, the lessons I’m learning are the non verbal ones. It screams “Do Not!”
Humility is one of those non verbal lessons. I get what it means to be humble, I do. What I refuse to accept, is the blurred lines between humility and plainly being someone’s punching bag. You see, I realize that one cannot make someone respect you or make them treat you decently. Some people are just lousy and will walk over you. What I also know is that you don’t have to allow it. This is what I mean by “Do Not.” Not the kind of lesson I want to learn.
My gran is old school and much wiser than I will probably ever be. The difference between us is that while I practice humility, I also don’t allow people to treat me the way they want to. More often than not people believe that being humble means keeping quiet all the time. That being the ‘least’ means that they can treat you like a second class person.
I look much younger than my 30+++++ years which means that older people tend to treat me as a kid. A kid I am, but that gives no one the right to dis respect me. It is for this reason that I make it my business to respect people no matter their age or social standing.
A few years back I went shopping and was holding a garment in my hand and inspecting it. An older woman, standing at the same rail grabbed the garment out of my hand because she wanted it. Shocked and appalled at the woman’s audacity, I took the garment back and politely but firmly told her that it was mine and turned to walk away. Her jaw dropped and she couldn’t say anything. Not a word. She was clearly more shocked than I was at her behaviour.
At a workplace an older colleague once shoved my out of her way to get into my workspace (I was a newbie at the time). I was peeved but kept my pose. I opened a drawer to block her way to get out, pretending to look for something. She stood there for a good few seconds waiting on me to get out. I let her stew for a while until she asked if she may be excused. I smilingly looked her in the eye and closed the drawer saying “Certainly, since you’re asking so nicely.” Again polite yet firm. I won that day and I earned her respect as her peer in the workspace. Smooth sailing since then.
Last year I ‘broke up’ with a friend whom I’ve known and loved for years. At a time when I was at my lowest we had a disagreement and things were said out of anger. She refused to acknowledge my point of view and pointed fingers and I retaliated saying how my family was right about her being bad news. Not the nicest thing to tell someone yet it was the truth. Looking back, I don’t regret breaking it off and saying what I did. Being on the receiving end of verbal assault from a group of people and having someone you consider a friend try to justify their actions when you know that you weren’t in the wrong is a no go. It was a toxic friendship that had to end.
There are plenty more examples I can give you but that would be best done over several cups of coffee at a quaint coffee shop. Let me know when you want to meet up. My point is though, that even though these few examples may not portray me as a humble person, sometimes you have to ensure that you colour in that blurred line. You don’t have to be rude when it comes to power plays. This doesn’t mean you’re in the proud quadrant. It simply means that once you’ve handled your business (in the most gracious way possible) you move on and don’t lash out.
Those scenarios played out and ended exactly the way I wrote it. There were no further word exchanges after I made my point. Which brings me to my next and important point. The art of keeping quiet.
One thing she constantly reminds me of is that “Silence is an answer too”. A thousand times YES gran. This I agree with. The modern version of that quote is “You don’t have to accept an invitation to every fight.”
Being ignored is a bitter pill to swallow. There is nothing that grates people more than fighting alone. You don’t know what your opponent thinks or feels. Realizing they probably don’t give two hoots is ulcer worthy. You do know that anger is bad for your health right? And that stress cause ulcers.
Words spoken in anger are the worst. In business, I always advise people to make arguments and decisions that aren’t emotionally driven. You will end up losing and no one will take you seriously. In personal matters I will tell you to dig deeper than your current emotion. Anger often stems from hurt. Hurting someone back or someone else won’t do you favours. It has a dominoe effect. You end up waiting on an apology you will probably never get while allowing that emotional wound to fester. Our world is filled with too much hate. The sad part is that while that grudge remains, you won’t even remember what the fight was about.
Proving your point or insisting on being right, even when you are, is sometimes just not worth it. You can never take your words back even if you didn’t mean it. Especially then. Important relationships can be ruined forever. Bridges are burnt. You lose trust and faith in humanity and worse still, yourself. Unnecessary pain is inflicted on yourself. Remember, ulcers. Not to mention your blood pressure.
No one can tell you when to keep quiet. Your gut will though. Before speaking up and possibly out of turn, ask yourself:
1) How is your words going to affect the situation.
2) Is what you have to say worth it.
3) Will it make you feel better. Not just that moment but even a day or a year down the line.
4) How will it make the other person(s) feel.
5) Are you willing to deal with possible consequences.
When you consider the above you may just realize that walking away and keeping quiet is the best course of action. It may not seem like victory and you’ll more than likely be angry at yourself for a while. In case you do, arguing in the shower is a great stress relieving method. Besides, you always win the arguments there.
In my experience, people are more likely to come to their senses with your silent treatment and apologize either verbally or with their actions. Look our for those actions. This is not a perfect world and it is difficult to apologise. Not everyone has it in them to say the words.
In conclusion, always try to choose humility. For the sake of your health and sanity, for those who are non the wiser and for world peace. We all have a part to play in this cruel world so why not spread positive vibes. Keeping quiet being one of them.
Have you ever had to make the choice of keeping quiet or lashing out and how did you handle it?