I was discussing the rude behavior of a certain individual with a friend. My friend, positive this person was aware of his actions, made the assumption that he would cower under a perceived authority figure. “Surely,” she surmised, “he’d act different toward this person’s wife.” I thought about it. “Only if he thinks he is doing something wrong. But let’s face it, he probably isn’t aware of how everyone is viewing his actions.”
I went home that night thinking of our conversation and I realized something important. We tend to make the mistake of assuming everyone is on the same level of understanding that we are currently on. Perhaps, that there is some memo sent out every night informing the mass public of the next day’s code of conduct measuring standards. But that simply is not the case.
To be clear, there is no uniform measuring stick. Sure, there are general rules and guidelines. Some make it into law books to try and help protect people. Those are fairly serious breaches in conduct and not really the focus of this little post. This is referring to rude but still legal actions and behavior.
You know, the people we label as jerks. In fairness, jerks don’t usually realize they are jerks. If they did, they would be sociopaths and would probably fall out of limits for this discussion based on the previous paragraph’s criteria. No, jerks are people like you and me. Just trying to survive the day. They may have so many defensive walls up that they probably don’t have a clear view over their wall. Their motive may to not be a victim and so they may proactively react in ways that come across as brash and rude.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking for sympathy for anyone here. A jerk should be called out for inappropriate conduct. I mean, all of us are trying to survive the day but we don’t have to deflate someone else’s life raft to keep ours afloat.
This little thought process is not intended to excuse anyone’s rude action but to help guide your reaction. Before you waste your time and energy responding to someone who is clearly not at your level of understanding ask yourself this question, “Is it worth it?” If the answer is yes, then get into that ring and fight. If the answer is no, move along.
Don’t be baited to drop your reaction to match their level. You probably won’t win when you have to fight on their turf. What are healthy ways you deal with jerks?