Nasty or Nice?

Yesterday I encountered an interesting situation. I, somewhat symbolically, became a punching bag for someone. His (verbal) attack was vicious, unexpected and unwarranted. Now, I do understand that his frustration was directed towards my company. I was just the unfortunate person who happened to be in the line of fire. However, it did get me wondering about the nature of nastiness, provoked or unprovoked.

Anyone who works in a customer service arena will attest that although, nine times out of ten, people are nice, it’s always the tenth- the nasty one- that sticks in the mind. Why is that? Is it because the emotions that a negative encounter stirs up are so much more complex, and likely to linger much after the event?

Moreover, how one deals with something like this also reveals a lot about oneself. Are you nice to nasty, or nasty to nasty? As for me, I stood my ground, and reiterated that the situation was beyond my control. I didn’t turn nasty, but refused to turn into a doormat either. My colleague congratulated me on standing up to the bullying behaviour of this particular person. But he also pointed out something rather thought provoking.

Why had this man not railed at my (male) colleague, yet, repeatedly, insistently, picked on me? Because, as a woman, I was more likely to give him an emotional response. As a woman, I was perhaps, in his mind, more vulnerable, As a woman, it was easier to dump his anger on me.

Living in the West, sometimes it is easy to forget the kind of prejudice that women face in other parts of the world. When something like this happens, I do wonder, whether to men, or certainly these kind of men, women are still the inferior species?

Anyway, back to the man and his outburst. Reminds me of the idiom: You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Had he been nicer, I still wouldn’t have been able to change the situation, but I would certainly have tried to help him in whatever way possible.

Bottom line is, it rarely pays to be nasty in the long run.

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6 thoughts on “Nasty or Nice?

  1. Hi Poornima,
    The bullies probably choose those who think is most vulnerable. My staff do get abuse, but when they see me they are nice as pie. I do support my staff and point it out to them when they see me.
    Best way to deal with these things is don’t go gaga if they praise you or get too down if they are a moan etc etc.

  2. I LOVE that phrase, “honey … vinegar”! I learned it from my Mum, and we still chuckle about it all the time …

    This man (no gentleman, incidentally) clearly mistook your gentle beauty for an easy target. Little did he know: soft and feminine on the outside, steely intelligence on the inside. Well done for standing your ground. Don’t forget, though, he didn’t actually see YOU. He saw someone in a uniform who represents in physical form the corporation he hates so much. Yes, you were an apparently easy target, but I hope your intransigence in the face of his vitriol taught him that throwing his toys out of the pram will not gain your respect, even if it did force your attention.

    Of course it is upsetting because you know yourself so well. You know how you treat people, you know that you go about your duties with the highest sense of pride and professionalism. You know you always seek to attain the highest standards in all that you do, including human relations and you just do not deserve this kind of treatment. This man, however, knows nothing of YOU, your depths, your intelligence, your infinite kindness. Did he give you a chance to speak or even give the impression of wanting to listen? Doesn’t sound like it to me. Yes, you were objectified, yes, possibly because of your being female, but it sounds as if you gave him something to think about, once he had vented his spleen. Or maybe not: he may be of the type that loves to get it all off his chest, feel he has had his say and then move on, caring little for the destruction he leaves in his wake. In which case I’m afraid he is a bully and a coward, but hey ho …. he’s gone now! If only he knew he had been in the presence of such greatness. The fool!

    Talking of moving on … yes, let it flow over you, dear P. I know how it feels, but remember, such people know NOTHING of you, the amazing, rich, witty, brilliant you and they never will … and that I’m afraid, is their loss. He is lost now, gone into the crowd. You on the other hand will never disappear into the crowd. Far from it: you will stand head and shoulders above it, seeing quite clearly the path ahead that you carve for yourself. Be proud of yourself for how you handled an unpleasant situation, you gorgeous Ice Queen, you! Head up, now … eyes forward, and off you go, as you were … XX

    1. Ah…as always you are so kind and lovely to me!! Thank you for understanding ( and you, more than anyone, knows the kind of abuse we have to put up with!). As an interesting aside, his seat partner was quick to point out to me later that he did not agree with his colleague ( although he had said nothing at the time… Cowardly much?) I, in turn, replied, ” I understand that he is ‘having a go’ at the uniform, but he must understand that there is a human being inside of that uniform!”

      This is something that people need to recognise and acknowledge.

      1. Maybe his seat partner was a subordinate and didn’t dare say anything. One never knows how the politics of commerce bubble beneath the surface of colleagues travelling together. Rather them than me! Brrrrrrrr …… ;o)

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