Being gracious is one thing, but staying put while someone else is being inappropriate sends the message “yes, I am willing to stay here and tolerate your bad behavior.”
If there’s more bad behavior aimed at me then, should I be surprised? I have two feet; I should use then. Walking away from mean or bad behavior is VERY empowering. Believe me, I know.
I’m NOT saying walk away from a fight. That’s a whole different subject. I’m focusing here only on a non-violent context. Different context, different rules.
I was in such a negative situation last night. I was providing someone with a business opportunity that they could take or leave. To illustrate the point, let’s say I’d brought some clothes into a dry-cleaner’s, though in fact this wasn’t a dry-cleaner’s and didn’t involve clothes. Essentially, though, it was that sort of dynamic.
I had made it clear to the other party that I don’t consider them obligated to take my business. Only if it was a mutual “win” was I interested. Even so, they were complaining about the task — not constructive input but simple negativity. Me pointing out the negativity didn’t improve things. Me reminding the person that it’s a deal they could accept or refuse, no pressure, also didn’t improve their mindset.
Then, I explained that this business deal is not worth putting up with negativity. Hardly any deals are, to me. I’d rather bypass the deal of the century than tolerate bad behavior. I’ve walked away from bad situations so often that it’s by now easy for me. It’s a useful habit to have developed.
Anyway, I gathered up my stuff and started putting it away. The other person became livid, being even more mean and insulting, and even holding onto some of my property to prevent me from putting it away. I pointed out to them they were being insulting, and I packed away whatever they weren’t holding onto. From then on, every time they said something insulting, I just said “insult” so it would be a nice reminder as to why I’m leaving I got to say that multiple times. Finally I took the last pieces of my property firmly out of the rude person’s hands, and left. Better.
Then, this morning, I had a similar opportunity. I was playing online chess. The other party is good chess player and way outranks me. And, he was being inappropriate. Within reason, making sexual overtures is fine and good. I’m a sexual being and I even enjoy some online flirting; I take it as a left-handed compliment. However, I don’t like it if the other party does it blatantly and persistently, while I’m not reciprocating, and clearly not interested.
I’m all for good-natured openness and I’m no prude, but wow, this guy WAY crossed the line. He’d initiated the sexual topic using the game’s online chat feature, and he just kept pushing. He pointed out that he’s 80 years old, his wife 75 years old. He asked my age. I told him I don’t divulge it. After that he tried to trick me into divulging it. I don’t enjoy that sort of thing, but fine. Anyway, he finally concluded I’m 19 or 30 or so. Good enough. Back to playing chess. Then he suggested I have a sexual session with him and his wife. Whoa. He phrased it trickily, like a good chess player — so me saying “no thank you” could be construed as “I disrespect older people.” Not wanting to step onto that land-mine, I gave a vague answer of “Geez, I don’t really know what to say.” I mean, golly, I was there because I like to play online chess. Everything else is secondary.
Anyway, his next statement was essentially: “Good, so you’ve said you agreed to a session with my 75-year old wife. Let me tell you how this would play out.” Wait, what? I typed “You’re misreading my level of interest. Please stop.”
Then, I thought about it some more. I don’t need to ask for him to behave. That would give him control. He doesn’t matter. I can just walk away. He’s free to behave, misbehave, whatever. He’s not my problem unless I choose to make him my problem. And I choose not to.
I abandoned the game, which ends the chat session — and I learned more from that chess game than I’d expected.