Thursday, May 17, 2012

Standing Your Ground

I have a positive world view, as do most of those in my inner circle. I believe that we control our fates and that we as individuals have more power and control over our lives than any other person or entity. I believe in the goodness of people. I believe that most people are decent and good and despite personality differences, we have a lot more in common than we have differences. Finally, I believe that how I behave and treat others matters. I believe in doing the right thing and that eventually, doing the right thing will pay off. Even when it doesn’t, I’d rather treat people fairly and behave ethically.

I’m not claiming to be a paragon of virtue or I’m some sort of earth-bound saint (far from it) but that is what I strive to do. HOWEVER, while I believe that most people are good, I don’t believe that all people are good. I don’t believe all people have good intention.

So how do you protect yourself from the self-centered manipulators who see kindness for weakness and look at you as their next mark without being taken advantage of and without letting them make you bitter and hateful?

Stand your ground.
Negative and manipulative people are often bullies. They use yelling, screaming and harsh tones to try to intimidate. They want emotion – crying, cowering, emotional withdrawal. When you respond in that way, they consider it a win. Instead, refuse to play their game by remaining calm and sticking to your guns.
  • ”I understand your point; however … “and then I restate my point or counter their offer with my own. I understand that you need this now; however, I can’t accommodate you at this moment, the best I can do for you is handle this next week.”
  • I also care too much for myself to let someone else disrespect me. If someone launches into a profanity-laced rant or begin to scream at me, I’ll end the discussion. Again, calmly I’ll state, “This isn’t the best time to have this discussion. When you are ready to talk calmly with me, we can try again; but right now, I’m going to end this call (or leave if we are in person).
Gather your facts. If the person you are dealing with is acting unethically, prepare yourself by gathering the information you need. I had a friend who was dealing with an unethical boss who was actively trying to get rid of her. So she kept copies of all relevant emails and forwarded them to her personal account. She also kept a notebook of her encounters with her boss including the dates and times of her conversations. She was prepared to defend herself when the manager reported her to Human Resources.

Seek Allies. It is possible that there are others around you who see what is going on and will side with you. There is power in numbers. When the bully sees that you have support, sometimes they will back off. Your allies will also be there to encourage you and to remind you that there are good people around.

Unfortunately, although it is nice to assume that all people are good people, that isn’t the reality. So when you prepare to deal with those other types, be prepared.

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