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.