"It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."
Why should we be nice when we feel others are being mean? Sometimes it seems like no one else cares anymore. You can be sincerely polite, gracious, and kind to everyone you meet and never have it reciprocated. Why bother?
B and I were discussing this today after Robotson told me that he was upset with someone and wanted to "make them feel the way they made him feel." I was letting him talk through it, using Active Listening, to get to the root of the problem. His idea was pretty detailed, and yes, rather mean. He wanted to make this person miss him, then call to find out where he was just so that he could make them apologize. Then he planned to not accept their apology. That way they would know exactly how he felt. While his plan may have worked; it was just as likely to backfire. Not to mention the other dozen things that were wrong with this particular idea.
It was really important for me to let Robotson talk this through though, because he did eventually reason himself out of it. If given the chance, kids know right from wrong. They don't actually need us to tell them.* He doesn't really want to hurt them, he wants them to realize that he was hurt, and apologize.
What B and I were discussing, is how being mannerly can sometimes make you feel walked upon. I'd say, more often than not, the other person truly has no idea there was a problem. On a rare occasion they know, but are too embarrassed to say anything. But why should you take the high road? Because being mannerly isn't about other people. It's about feeling good about yourself. Ultimately, Robotson wouldn't have felt good making anyone feel badly, no matter how hurt he is himself, and he recognized that. I suggested he try to talk to them about what happened. I'm not sure if he will, but it's a better way to go.
Here are some guidelines to follow for confronting rude behavior:
During a confrontation…
1. Ask yourself if it’s really worth it.
2. Stay calm under pressure.
3. Address the rudeness.
4. If all else fails, leave.
*Well, as long as we are modeling the correct behavior, that is!