Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Who Do They Think They Are?
Have you ever said or thought it? I know I have, plenty of times. "Who does he think he's talking to?" It's our gut reaction to someone crossing the boundaries of courtesy, getting too personal, or making an inappropriate request.
If you are not someone who quickly loses his temper when feeling put upon (not recommended), or aren’t able to take the high road with a classy response, you may need some help when dealing with an overly “entitled” individual.
Jenny (not her real name) is my best friend in town. Everybody knows her and her husband Joe (not his real name) for the wonderful neighborhood parties they give. They are also the go-to couple for help and advice on anything home and garden. They are softies, always willing to lend a hand.
The day before hurricane Irene went over our town, everybody was rushing around with last minute errands, bringing in the outdoor furniture and everything else that could become airborne and battening down the hatches. Lots of phone calls went back and forth. The anxiety in the neighborhood was palpable. The threat of flooding, and having one of the old trees along the sidewalks crashing down on our houses was real and imminent.
It was getting late into the evening. Their family fed and everything secured, Jenny, Joe, and their three young children along with grandma were huddling in front of the TV, watching the Weather Channel. Then the phone rang again.
It was a neighbor who rarely occupied the house next door, preferring to live up state in a home over-looking the river. She informed Jenny that they had just decided to leave the river house after all, and would she please strip and wash the sheets on their beds, because they themselves would be too tired to do so when they arrived. Thank you very much.
Jenny said yes. She felt slightly nauseous and upset. "What do they think they are?" Looking at Joe for support. In reality, Jenny was very angry at herself. She gave a lot of thought to what had just happened, and why she had agreed so automatically.
Was it just that she had failed to come up with a better response quickly enough? Although that might be partially true, as many people are momentarily stunned when confronting the unexpected, Jenny readily admits that she may not have the “stuff” to say "no."
If you, like my friend, doubt you could say "no" when an improper request is made of you, then the answer to, "Who do I think I am?" is what you need to explore.
"No, I would be uncomfortable doing that," is an excellent reply. Any follow-up "Why?” can be answered with, "I already answered that'. Of course, silence is also an option. Do what feels more comfortable to you. Do not explain yourself more than that. You never need to justify treating yourself with respect.