Martyr? I hardly even know yr!
November 8, 2012 5:39 AM Subscribe
How do you recognize and prevent situations in which attempting to stand up for yourself or for a principle of yours results in embarrassment and making yourself look belligerent, condescending, embittered, and a bit crazy?
posted by My Famous Mistake to human relations (35 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I'm talkin' bout those times where you're sure you're doing the right thing and standing up for yourself and for others, but when the dust settles and you prepare for the feeling of gratification you get from being forthright, honest, and assertive you look around to find everyone you were trying to help is looking at you with surprise and a little disgust like you took a piss on the rug, because you made it a little louder or a little more serious or a little meaner than it really needed to be.
And that leads directly to those times you're up, grey-faced at 3am poring over the e-mails you can't help yourself from sending, desperately trying after the fact to explain your behavior or support your view, anything to avoid accepting the reality of the situation, that you went a little too far, e-mails first proclaiming you will stand your ground, and when the response contains some criticism of your lofty position your next e-mail grows a sharp little edge on it, an edge that puts thoughts in their heads like Hey, this dude seemed normal and thoughtful and nice, but now I see something nasty under there, and then eventually you have to start apologizing, revising, adding postscripts, sending more and subsequent "I know you don't want anymore e-mails from me, but I just have to make it clear about this one last thing you misunderstand about me" e-mails and you know you've lost, you bet the farm without even looking at your cards and you lose every time, and you should just stop but hell, it's already ruined, so just let the muscle memory take over and lose a few more friends.
How do you see it coming early enough to avert the tired PR disaster when you take a feeling too far? How do you diagnose whether you're acting assertively and with confidence or aggressively and with hubris? What signs do you watch for that tell you to dial it back and take sober stock of a situation before it deteriorates and your ugly side peeks out?