Monday, February 1, 2010


I woke early this morning and started thinking about things that I knew with certainty half a lifetime ago, but have only just started to understand. (Then, also, started thinking about the converse - things I didn't have a clue about back then and have only just come to realise).

On the first list, I have:
1.1 never give ground to bullies
1.2 not everyone is going to like you
1.3 there are only so many personality types out there

On the second list:
2.1 most people hate confrontation
2.2 it never hurts to ask the question

A lot of these are actually linked in together. This morning's ponderings were really about a number of conversations I have had over the past few weeks.

I recently had a run-in with someone who was illegally parked in my driveway (I was, in fact, trying to avoid the run-in - he had parked in such a way I could not get past and I asked him to move his vehicle). It ended after he threatened to smash in my car and screaming at me to 'f***ing get a life'. Not something I would wish to go through again.

Now, this guy was tall, young and very fit looking. It has only been since then that I have cast my mind back to when men have thought it OK to threaten a woman using their physical presence (though some of the worst bullies I have met have been women in the workplace who like to play head games.) It has happened to me any number of times, and I in the past I have been too naive at the time to call them out on it.

These days, not so much.

I realise I am really tired of people who think it is acceptable to behave like this - who think it is OK to bully people for whatever reason.

And I have learned the only way to deal with them effectively is to cheat.

With any game, there is the possibility you are going to lose. It is more probable that you will lose if the other party isn't playing by the rules. In essence, this is what bullying is. So to win, you also stop playing by the rules - but it is even better if you stop playing the game altogether. And by this, I mean don't buy into their crap.

This usually throws them for a loop - they have become used to provoking a certain response in people. It is a form of conditioning. Positive reinforcement is when you receive a reward for a certain behaviour; negative reinforcement (contrary to popular belief) is when they don't get that reward. So, if you react in the way they expect, you are reinforcing their behaviour; however, if you don't react in the way they expect, they start to wonder what the hell is going on.

And this also ties into 1.3, which is about personality types. The older I get, the more people I meet and I have found that I can often 'peg' a person fairly quickly. For example, I have recently met a woman who reminded me strongly of someone I have known in the past. I had also heard a number of negative things about this person before meeting them. As a rule, I would not necessarily use either of these factors to pre-judge, as I will always deal with a person on their own merits, but sometimes it does pay to keep it in the back of your mind. Needless to say, this person lived up to the hype.

(I also have a weird thing where I can almost always predict how I will get on with someone based on their name. For example, Matthew. I have known a great many, and there has only ever been one that I didn't really like).

So, back to my ponderings.

How should we deal with the people we meet in life?

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