Office Etiquette Rule Number 6: Don't Fight, and Don't Be Defensive

Etiquette Rule Number 6: Don't Fight, and Don't Be Defensive

Don't retaliate if someone is aggressive with you. When you retaliate oftentimes you are reacting out of the past. There is a saying, "If it's hysterical, it's historical."

When you retaliate, you are often taking offense to something that you perceived as a slight. This perception is tied to your past--whether it was the mistreatment by a previous employer or colleague or from a family member when you were a child or someone you looked up to as a child.

Really--do we bring the past to work? Do we still bring in those feelings of the past when we were a child? Yes. We do bring our past to work. And sometimes, maybe oftentimes, we bring what we didn't get as a child to work hoping to get it twenty and thirty years later.

In our frustration of not getting what we should have gotten as a child, and then not getting it from our boss or colleagues, we become frustrated, even angry.  At times this manifests itself when we lash out. When we lash out, by saying something harsh or sarcastically, our reaction is something that seems very out of place to others.

When this happens, you are over compensating for what you feel you deserve and didn't get. Your retaliation is usually seen by others as over-the-top. You are labeled as insecure, immature, and defensive.

If you let all the baggage go--that is--you drop the past, and you don't react to what you perceive as slights by others--you are seen as cool, objective and mature. This is what you are aiming for--that steady Eddie--someone who can be counted on all the time, through tough times and easy times.

If the other person does take a swing at you, instead of taking it on the chin or throwing up you guard to block the punch, you move to the left, or what I refer to as "turning sideways," the punch just goes by you. You moved out of its way. You moved out of the poisonous orbit of the venomous assault. What happens then is a phenomenon that is difficult to describe. The other person is left standing there without anyone to engage with. The other person looks like an idiot. Don't take that award away from them by retaliating. There's a Murphy's Law that says, "Argue with a moron and the person passing on the street can't tell who the moron is."

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