How to Pull the Knife Out of Your Back

Have you ever said something stupid?  I have.  Maybe you spoke out of turn? Let something slip that you shouldn’t have?  I did.  I also know some pretty smart folks that have done the same.    What did you do?  Humbly apologized, I hope.  I also offered to do what I could to make it better, sans excuses.

It doesn’t always work, right?  We all make mistakes but sometimes you’re still at the mercy of the maturity on the other side of the table.  Granted, some open-mouth-insert-foot moments are worse than others.  Forgiveness can take time.

Here are 3.5 tips for how to act when you’re the one that got “dissed”…


1. LIFE IS PUBLIC – Think it over for a few days before you go “unfriending” on Facebook, un-following on twitter and deleting from your Meetup group.  Why?

A. It’s hard to undo and usually regrettable – after all, ignorance is not malice.  Most mistakes are harmless.  Take your time to forgive a sincere apology.

B. If the act was truly malicious, than follow the advice of Sun-Tzu: “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

2. LIFE IS LONG – or so we hope. The person you’re turning your back on may have been the person that could have helped you the most.
I know that when I’ve made a mistake, I work doubly hard to make up for it.
Always ask yourself, “Is this the graceful, dignified response?”

2.5 THE BIG BACKFIRE – Retribution can be like a long-forgotten boomerang. One day, down the road, it can smack you in the head. Hopefully it’s not when you need a job.

You better look in the mirror and ask, “Is what I’m doing worse than the thing that pissed me off in the first place?” and, “Am I fanning the flame or putting it out?”

3.  PRINCIPLES DON’T CHOOSE SIDES – Acting out of character doesn’t get a hall-pass just because you feel you’re on the “right” side of an issue.

Finding a way through a problem promotes harmony.  Maintaining a divide produces discord.  Where do you think the wise place is to expend and invest your energy?

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18 comments
Sandeep
Sandeep

Another good insight to get guided from.... Thanks for posting and all such stuff helps to bring us back on rails, wherever required...

Amy
Amy

Andrew - I don't think this is a guideline for perfection. Perhaps the central message is not to act in the moment.

JT - I hope you're right but I've run into some mean spirited folks.

Laura - Thank you. I'm grateful for your friendship.

As our lives become more public and we embrace transparency I believe it allows us to be more open to giving and receiving the help that we all need.

Thanks for the thoughts and comments.

Emily
Emily

Andrew - I don't think this is a guideline for perfection. Perhaps the central message is not to act in the moment.

JT - I hope you're right but I've run into some mean spirited folks.

Laura - Thank you. I'm grateful for your friendship.

As our lives become more public and we embrace transparency I believe it allows us to be more open to giving and receiving the help that we all need.

Thanks for the thoughts and comments.

Steve
Steve

Jeff-
Great post...and something that is too often swept under the carpet and/or dealt with in silence, so I appreciate you sharing :)

Sierra

Bruce
Bruce

Jeff, you pose intriguing questions. I pondered this one.. First, I agree and resonate with everyone above... When I am the one dissed and I react... its usually about me. I know it can hurt depending on the level of the offense and no one really wants to be rejected, treated badly or betrayed.

I now find the direct approach to be the simplest. If this is a relationship I want to move toward, I wait for a neutral zone and ask how they intended the remark or action. There may be other factors at work which have nothing to do with me. This also allows a breathing space for them to 'own' or evaluate their part. Sometimes the relationship deepens, sometimes it just stays the same.

Its a matter of degrees. If at the end of the day, the relationship or person is not one I want to cultivate, I just walk away with a resolve to move on. In a perfect world, I see to forgive... it releases both of us... even if they don't know they were forgiven. Forgiveness is not always easy, but for me, it is the only path that allows me to show up as who I really want to be and to be free to love more.

Amy
Amy

Jeff, you pose intriguing questions. I pondered this one.. First, I agree and resonate with everyone above... When I am the one dissed and I react... its usually about me. I know it can hurt depending on the level of the offense and no one really wants to be rejected, treated badly or betrayed.

I now find the direct approach to be the simplest. If this is a relationship I want to move toward, I wait for a neutral zone and ask how they intended the remark or action. There may be other factors at work which have nothing to do with me. This also allows a breathing space for them to 'own' or evaluate their part. Sometimes the relationship deepens, sometimes it just stays the same.

Its a matter of degrees. If at the end of the day, the relationship or person is not one I want to cultivate, I just walk away with a resolve to move on. In a perfect world, I see to forgive... it releases both of us... even if they don't know they were forgiven. Forgiveness is not always easy, but for me, it is the only path that allows me to show up as who I really want to be and to be free to love more.

Sierra Friend
Sierra Friend

Jeff-
Great post...and something that is too often swept under the carpet and/or dealt with in silence, so I appreciate you sharing :)

Sierra

Jeff Marmins
Jeff Marmins

Thanks Jess - transparency is something i get to talk a lot about these days. And, it's easier to discuss than it is to put into real practice. i think that's because we often see honest disclosure as a weakness - protecting our insecurities instead of seeing the bravery in sharing them openly.

I appreciate your perspective as well Laura but wonder, when you decide it's time to walk away, how do you handle your relationship in online social mediums?

Laura Chick
Laura Chick

Jeff, you pose intriguing questions. I pondered this one.. First, I agree and resonate with everyone above... When I am the one dissed and I react... its usually about me. I know it can hurt depending on the level of the offense and no one really wants to be rejected, treated badly or betrayed.

I now find the direct approach to be the simplest. If this is a relationship I want to move toward, I wait for a neutral zone and ask how they intended the remark or action. There may be other factors at work which have nothing to do with me. This also allows a breathing space for them to 'own' or evaluate their part. Sometimes the relationship deepens, sometimes it just stays the same.

Its a matter of degrees. If at the end of the day, the relationship or person is not one I want to cultivate, I just walk away with a resolve to move on. In a perfect world, I see to forgive... it releases both of us... even if they don't know they were forgiven. Forgiveness is not always easy, but for me, it is the only path that allows me to show up as who I really want to be and to be free to love more.

Jess
Jess

Good thoughts, I agree with what everyone is saying here. Miscommunication can create some real issues. Sometimes it comes down to the point where each side needs to vent and you can become stronger when you work past it. I communicate daily with so many different age groups, each group comes with their own version of ethics and language. It has been really helpful for me to be transparent about my life and ideals. In turn, easier to accept right or wrong.
Laura really said it all when she discussed "healthy" relationships and Jeff is right, life is long. Enjoy it!

Suzanne : : S.HOPtalk
Suzanne : : S.HOPtalk

I agree with your advice, Jeff. Personally, my philosophies of "don't sweat the small stuff" and kill 'em with kindness" have served me well. I, too, believe that most people have kind hearts and good intentions. Issues tend to stem from miscommunication. If you make the effort to discuss it openly and honestly (vs. an emotional, knee jerk reaction), the issue is often resolved and the relationship becomes stronger. Great post Jeff!

Jeff Marmins
Jeff Marmins

Andrew - I don't think this is a guideline for perfection. Perhaps the central message is not to act in the moment.

JT - I hope you're right but I've run into some mean spirited folks.

Laura - Thank you. I'm grateful for your friendship.

As our lives become more public and we embrace transparency I believe it allows us to be more open to giving and receiving the help that we all need.

Thanks for the thoughts and comments.

Laura Good
Laura Good

Good advice Jeff. I don't think this post is about abandoning our principles. It's more about cutting friends a little slack and taking some time to cool off and reflect. We can take a "time out" from a relationship while we sort things out, but we should not be hasty about cutting friends off. I think it's juvenile to immediately "unfriend", "unfollow" or "unfan."

In healthy, safe, relationships, there is freedom to argue, disagree, even sometimes yell at each other, without the fear that someone is going to cut you off because you expressed how you were feeling. Healthy relationships are fluid and allow for good days and bad days, mistakes and occasional sheer stupidity.

For me, two principles guide my life in my relationships. Love my neighbor and do unto others as I would have them do unto me.

Thanks for a thoughtful post Jeff.

JT Long
JT Long

Great advice. Also, I happen to think that all people are good at heart.

Andrew Rogerson
Andrew Rogerson

Very interesting article. Perhaps it could have come with a sub-title - "How to be perfect." And of course, the answer is, we can't. Additionally, one of the intriguiging things I see about social media is that it's still a relatively new means of communication. The younger set have pretty much worked out how to use it - us older folks who are time, hip and on-line socially challenged are still working out the rules. What we learned when we grew up or in our corporate environment doesn't seem to apply. Perhaps the best advice I received was don't say anything to anyone you wouldn't say to your grandmother. However, if you adopt that approach you may have to live in a monastery; where they don't have social media. But I agree 100% with Jeff's comment: "retribution can be like a long forgotten boomerang." This approach can put you between a rock and a hard place as inevitably you have to be yourself. However, just to be argumentative, I think as a society we are now in desperate need of principles. By definition, a principle comes at a cost. If there is a cost for standing up for what I believe, I think that is an investment well worth making. Otherwise our society just keeps going lower and lower; or a race to the bottom. History has shown us that societies that have raced to the bottom have not survived - so we have to start somewhere.

Jeff Marmins
Jeff Marmins

grateful for the blog comment! when can we catch up??!??