Better Left Unsaid

Silence is golden, we’ve heard and read this since times immemorial.

And yet, I realize that not many of us practice this maxim. Not pointing you out alone, even I don’t occasionally. Oh the number of times I could have been a better and stronger individual had I kept my trap shut!

But speech is silver. So that’s good enough… Maybe… At least I am glad I am not as patient, tolerant and generous as my mom and some other folks – people tend to walk over them with total disregard for their sentiments and expectations. I am glad I am able to stuff some sense and teach politeness, humanity and etiquette to deserving (or undeserving) individuals.

The point being, a lot of people only love to yap and never shut up.

Especially when it comes to feedback; people want to give it but few would be willing to receive it in the right spirit. And that’s the most annoying bit.

Not once but twice in the past week, I have been exceptionally surprised and upset when people came to me with gyaan. I took it well externally, but inside, I was furious and hurt. Let me tell you why in detail below…

The first situation happened at work when a colleague wrote me an email stating that something I’d written in my previous mail bothered her. I would probably have not felt offended had she picked up the phone and spoken to me directly rather than typing out emotion-laden words on Outlook. What definitely made it worse was that she marked my supervisor on the mail. Now that’s certainly no way to build bridges and relationships. That too when we’re on the same team!

She quoted me and stated how it was incorrect the way I’d responded to some aspects of the email. While she was in the process of evolving me, she herself did not pay heed to the insensitivity of her own words. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Extremely heartless it appeared to me. And then my sup said she was a very sensitive person and that she had guided her on how to draft this email to me. I mean hello?!! Are we conspiring on something as small as this??

I overlook a lot of things that happen to me at work and outside. I don’t raise a hue and cry about everything that goes against my principles and perspectives. I take interactions with a pinch of salt and I moderate my tone even in the fieriest circumstances. Why then was I being exposed to too much feedback and that too on such trivial issues? It did not strike me as right at all. I did not approve of this method and response. But hey, I know people are different and I know that I cannot control everyone.

So be it. What’s done is done.  I choose which bones to pick and leave unattended and I also know that sometimes you need to lose a battle to win the person. Owing to these values, I often let people think they’re right and not debate over tiny topics. I call it sensibility, but obviously smart asses think they’re the sensible ones and I am otherwise. My behaviour and attitude is targeted while their own is justified and forgiven. Bah!

I responded very positively and humbly, too modestly for my liking, actually. I did not want to prolong the discussion any further or allow it to have any negative consequences on my tenure and relationships at work. I carried the bitter taste in my mouth and kept a sweet face on display for all. I was seething inside, but I knew I would achieve nothing if I reacted any other way. She thankfully had the decency to acknowledge that and that was the end of this story.

The second encounter was at home with my uncle’s friend. Now this man is a big-shot and blah so obviously he enjoys tremendous respect from all quarters and a fair share of flattery and ass licking. While I do nothing beneath my (high) standard, I treat him with dignity as expected for an elder and a family friend.

Imagine my chagrin then, when he called me on his way back home after our chance meet at my uncle's place, complaining that I had been grossly indecent when I said his wife was looking thin!

Huh?!!

Exactly. 

To be told she looks thinner - Isn’t that supposed to be a compliment of the highest order for most women?? And to top that, the manner I had said it in was undoubtedly positive and appreciative... Despite the fact she had not really looked any different (maybe fatter if anything!)

Let’s look at this with a fine tooth comb,shall we, Mr. BigShot?

One, I will not be seeing you in the next 4-5 months just like I hadn’t met you in the previous ones. Sharing feedback with me on anything is an absolute waste coz you have no clue when we will see each other next. Two, if your wife is silly enough to quiz and torture you on such a random comment, then you possibly need to counsel her and not share feedback with me. Three, there is a way in which you describe things. Saying “what if I tell your mom…..” is utterly pathetic and unacceptable. And four, who are you to teach me about women psychology? Are you forgetting that I am a woman first and foremost and a Psych master at that? I have ample education and experience in all possible ways and I do not need advice from a man who when incensed does not have the decency to speak properly to an unfamiliar woman. What if my husband were to call you now and reprimand you for doing what you did? Tit for tat is right, right? But no, we're mature and calm folks, so we shall spare you this encounter. Which you could have, too.

Turns out age does not really guarantee wisdom, nor does success. This was a mighty poor example of the high standards you set for yourself and others. Shameful to say the least.

Again, I thought I’d be the bigger person and I accepted his words and apologized as appropriate. I tried to explain my point of view, but how the hell did it matter? All that he was concerned about was having his say and showing his (absent) wit. 

So you see, two incidents and both where I behaved marvelously well in spite of the other person’s stupidity. I pride myself on my mature responses, but both these people and experiences have left me shaken.

Shall I also start terrorizing others this way for my feelings? Do I thrust the responsibility of maintaining a good relation entirely on others' shoulders no matter their age or designation? I used to think it works both ways, but now I am not so sure. I’m done being nice and understanding. Time other people were a little careful too.

I’ve come to a point where I do not know what to say or write anymore. Anything can be blown out of proportion by any person with any age, education or background. Children these days are more reasonable and sensible than elders.

Can I make an appeal to you? Don’t abuse your power or status. Just because someone respects you and bows, don’t shove your ego down his or her throat. If someone accepts your feedback, thank them (and your stars) for it and ask in turn if there is anything that person would like to share with  you.

Be wise, dudes and dudettes!

P.S – What I’ve written above is by no means fictitious, it bears complete resemblance to people and situations. I don’t know if these folks might comes across this post, but I pray that they do, coz I left a lot of things unsaid. Guess they could have done that too… and not given me this compelling reason to write. 


Cheerio!
Anuja

Comments

Ranveer vishal said…
Exactly my feeling and glad u wrote about it. I met quite a few idiots and maintained a dignified silence, unsure whether I should speak out. It gets more awkward when that person is feeling and did i resort to the best thing by not replying back? Dunno though being wiser makes sense.

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