“When others don’t treat you with respect in their words or actions, it’s your job to stand up for yourself. Poor treatment only stops when people stand up to it. Stand up.” ~ LMB
Men and women all over the world are cowering to poor treatment every day.
- Dan’s wife blows up with him and the kids almost daily. Dan’s response is to walk on eggshells around her and try not to set her off. So far, this approach has not worked.
- Karen’s husband has an explosive temper. Everyone in the family knows to get out of his way if he’s in a mood. Sadly, even when he’s not “in a mood,” he snaps at them and shuts them down.
- John’s colleague often shames co-workers in meetings, makes sexist comments to the women, and hijacks meetings with his outrageous behavior. John and others ignore him and hope that one day he’ll get the hint.
These types of behaviors have resulted in countless divorces. Companies all over the world have lost excessive numbers of employees, managers, and CEOs. And entire countries have paid the price for emotionally reactive and abusive leaders. Ask anyone who has ever been close to a bully, and they will tell you how truly taxing and harmful it can be.
Bullying, shaming, and angry outbursts do not go away on their own. The bullies of the world do not and will not respond to shrinking. And yet, many people try to “manage” outbursts and bullying by cowering to it and not “setting” the bully-off. The problem with this type of thinking is that you don’t “set” anyone off. They set themselves off. Your attempts to be super careful not to set them off only helps to grow their entitlement to escalate their anger.
If you have someone in your life who is reactive, aggressive, or disrespectful towards you, it’s up to you to stand up to it. If the behavior happens in public, address it in public. Use your words and back your words up with actions. If this is happening at work, address it in real-time whenever possible. Find others who will back you up in meetings and speak to it at the moment—there is strength in numbers. If someone in your home is reactive, decide what actions you can take if the behavior doesn’t stop, inform them of the consequences, and then follow through consistently.
Challenge: Trying to avoid “setting” someone off is a bad plan. Be respectful certainly; however, ducking to someone’s constant reactivity will only empower their reactivity. Don’t empower anger.
NOTE: Do not follow the above if you are in a domestic violence situation. Instead, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).