Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fair Fights

Most of my friends are very direct. They say what's on their mind. They don't throw any punches. And when they get mad-- whoo! They get MAD!

I came from a family that were peace keepers. We came to resolutions peacefully. And the unwritten rule of thumb was: "Don't make waves."

Up until meeting my hubby, my main source of defense was being passive aggressive. I would smile as sweetly as you please and say the kindest words you've ever heard, all the while setting up my opponent to hang themselves. This is a skill I continue to try to hone.

My friends have gotten some fringe benefits from my passive aggressiveness. I have taught them how to smile sweetly, say the kindest words you've ever heard, all the while, cutting down their opponent and setting them up to hang themselves.

One friend has successfully out-maneuvered her sister-in-law to become her mother-in-law's favorite. Another friend has gone so far as to actually get her hubby to fight his ex on his family's behalf (Pure progress, indeed!).

Now, I can't take full credit for either friend's good turn of events. But I can say, that I did help. By helping them pose questions that really only had one logical answer. By helping them try to look at words from a different perspective- more like a puzzle to work into what you want it to be. Then by taking those words and, in a very calm, poised demeanor, phrasing them in such a way as to make the opponent think it was all totally their idea. My friends came out winners. Their opponents came out none-the-wiser. Game over.

There are definitely times, though, when the straight arrow approach is the best thing to do. I fell completely short in that area. I would turn into a blubbering, babbling mess, unable to make any sense, and with a face full of black mascara (effective and attractive!).

My hubby and friends have helped me grow in this area. They've made me comfortable enough with them to be able to confront them in a very neutral, yet loving way, without feeling like they would be personally offended or angry with me.

Because of them, I'm able to call the cable company and ask them calmly about my bill, and even have them reverse charges, without crying, screaming, shaking, babbling, threatening or completely wussing out and thanking them for charging me extra. I can tell someone who asks me to volunteer, "thanks, but no thanks," and stand my ground. I can discipline my kids without fear that they will hate me forever and run away.

Am I still passive aggressive? Oh, you bet! But now it's more of a game than a defense mechanism. Now it's an option instead of a survival technique. And there is something so completely satisfying about getting your way- no matter how that happens...

1 comment:

ThePrincessMommy said...

Oh yeah - from a former "aggressive only" gal - I will say now there are LOTS of time the PA approach works much better with lots less stress!!! :-)