Conflict is unavoidable. Sometimes it fosters creative problem solving, and lends to unique win-win resolutions where everyone benefits. Then there are those conflicts that are just plain petty. That co-worker who hits 'Reply All' in an attempt to publicly shame others. Or even worse, (in)direct social media jabs. Sure, it's easy to say "ignore it...move on". Getting there is the hard part. It requires you to adjust your crown.
What do I mean by that? Have you ever watched an old black and white movie where the leading lady's feathers get ruffled? Back then distinction, grace, class, and downright snobbery were the medicine used to treat those suffering from hateritis. Memories of Bette Davis waiving a dismissive hand or doling out a biting one-liner continue to warm my heart. She adjusted her crown very well.
Ladies, there are rules to this game. Throwing shade like Ms. Davis takes years of practice. Quite frankly, I'm not even on that level yet. But as my mother always said "class will tell". So let's start with the basics.
1) Everyone has a story
We all have our struggles. We all deal and heal in our own ways. With that being said, you may or may not know what the other person has going on in their lives. Do they feel unwanted or unloved? Are they lonely? Could they, or someone they love, be dealing with health issues? It is easy to dismiss someone as being miserable. Failure to see life from their lenses can create unnecessary tension in your relationship with them. Asking yourself "why" can go a long way in determining how you handle their brand of pettiness.
2) Use the Right Forum to Vent
If you see an indirect post on Facebook about you, it's natural to want to respond or put up a post of your own. DON'T. Going tit for tat only validates their foolishness, bringing you to their level. You have a crown on your head girl. And no one should be allowed to knock it down.
Do you have a friend that you love and trust? I'm talking about the one that helps calm you down. Not the one who comes to your house with a ski mask at 1AM ready to roll. Again I say: DON'T. (I've had a few of those friends over the years, and oddly enough, I've noticed that they tend to have constant turmoil in their lives. Co-winky dink? I think not.) Leave the drama out of writing (social media, email, text or otherwise), and just talk. Simply verbalizing the issue can help you feel at ease about your situation. You might even resolve it on your own by having a comforting ear and fresh perspective. Remember, even if you delete it, screenshots and written messages can live forever. Honor the crown.
3) Respond Appropriately
And by appropriately I mean determine whether you should respond at all. Several factors should be taken into consideration. A few of them are as follows:
- Does this person fly off of the handle often?
- Can your life be significantly impacted in some way by what they've done?
- Do they just need to be put in their place?
Admittedly, it's hard for me to let stuff go without addressing it. I may let it die down a bit at first, but I'm a "get to the root of the problem so it doesn't happen again" kind of girl. Usually my method of choice for a warning shot is a compliant response that exposes the individual's shenanigans. If that doesn't work then being direct is the best way to go. Set expectations for how you want to be treated, keeping the esteem of all parties in mind.
Bonus: Everything comes around full circle. If you're patient, you will find that the universe works itself out. Trust me. It's true.
4) Be Productive
Depending on the issue, you might not have the opportunity to address it. Or you may have decided that it's not worth your time, effort, or energy. You might still be perturbed even if you've decided on this course of action. Recently my godmother blessed me with a catchphrase that I adore, "when you're blue, find something to do." Blue doesn't have to be depressed or sad - you could be mad as hell. Put that energy into a project. Do you have home improvement projects in queue? Is there a hobby that you've wanted to pick up? Finding ways to better use your time is a great way to blow off some steam. It serves a dual purpose. Now you're not only dealing with your issue effectively, you're taking time to improve yourself.
Effectively resolving conflict is difficult for most of the population. Navigating through your emotions, and those of others can exhaust a lot of energy. Take time to relax. Reflect on what went well, what you might want to do differently next time, and bask in the glory of your perfectly perched crown. You deserve it :-).