I went on a course recently that was basically about getting on with people in the workplace but everything that was being addressed applied equally to our day to day family and social lives as well. Accepting that everyone is different and trying to see things from another’s perspective. One of the concepts mentioned was ‘not making a fuss’.
We allow something that has upset us to go unchallenged at home or at work. Some ill-judged word, a dismissive tone of voice or an action that someone else thought was amusing but which made us feel uncomfortable. So many of us tend to just let it go for the quiet life and then, when it happens again, we wonder ‘Did I allow this situation to recur because I said nothing the first time?’
The answer, of course, is ‘Yes’.
If something that you don’t like happens to you directly or to someone else in your sphere, you should speak up. Silence perpetuates the problem because it allows the perpetrator the green light to continue. And if it starts to repeat, resentment will ensue. Remaining quiet just ferments the irritation, bubbling under the surface until the point where it goes bang and erupts in a big messy argument.
Far better to deal with the issue when it is still small and fresh than the deluge of effluvia contained in a long-held grievance.
If only I had been given this piece of advice when I was younger, instead of being conditioned into putting up and shutting up. My Dad used to hate queueing and would always make a big fuss if he had to. It was totally embarrassing for both us and my mother. Her way was to remain silent and tolerate any inconvenience, both in public and in private. But it also meant that she didn’t draw attention to my father’s way of denigrating her as the butt of some of his jokes when she obviously felt very uncomfortable.
I grew up to repeat this behaviour after she left. If he behaved badly, I would eventually get upset over a specific incident rather than drawing his attention to the pattern of bullying, for that is effectively what it was. He would be mortified if he realised that and would never have done it intentionally but some people (even television funnymen) have a ‘sense of humour’ that feeds off the discomfort or physical shortfalls of others and unless it is drawn to their attention, they will never understand the unkindness of that type of comedy.
I also did not complain when my own Husband behaved in a similar fashion, laughing at me in front of friends and family and making me feel not good enough. I lived my life wearing a continual big smile to disguise the very repressed and angry person that was eating away at my insides until it built up to such a degree that there would have to be an emotional outburst far exceeding the scale of the triggering transgression. This, in turn, led my Husband to believe that I was prone to over-reacting and so he would ignore whatever I was moaning about because it would soon blow over.
In reality, the air was never cleared and the problem returned to fester in the depths of my soul. I told Ruf recently that I would never justify my presence in someone’s life ever again. Never feel that I was somehow not good enough for them. If they didn’t care enough to verbally, emotionally and physically demonstrate their pleasure that I was there, then I obviously shouldn’t be. It is something that has been a bone of contention throughout my life and a major instigator of my bouts of anorexia so I am trying very hard to face up to it now to avoid any more repetition.
I have been in work situations where one person has said something to another that I know was uncalled for. The person running the course said that if it makes you ill at ease as an observer, then it most likely has the same effect on the recipient, who will be sitting there thinking ‘Is it just me?’. If no one else says anything, then that person will believe that they are being thin-skinned and remain silent, so the bully gets away with it to come back another day. If other people voice their concerns in the victim’s defence, then the aggressor might think twice about their words the next time.
We owe a duty to other people as well as to ourselves to speak out when something is not right.
Originally posted 2008-11-14 23:56:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter