Thursday, June 23, 2011

On dickish behavior.

Tonight at work I was faced with a situation that irked me a bit. I won't bore you with the details, but the gist of the conversation consisted of someone acting out of spite (and likely a healthy dose of laziness) while expressing fake indignation at "needing" to do so.

Come on, now, you know your ass wasn't going to be working hard whether someone pissed you off or not.

Unfortunately, this is a conversation I have all too frequently with some coworkers, and of course people I know *outside* of work.

My argument is (and yes, I use it with the people saying these things, too!), how does you being a dick in return help the situation any? Ever. The only thing that happens is that everyone gets progressively pissier, and more and more defensive of their dickish behavior, until all things productive and helpful have come to a complete standstill, because inevitably they try to get others involved in proving their own righteousness in being a bigger dick.

This situation is typically made worse by the tendency of the individuals involved in the dickish-behavior contest to not actually say a damn word to each other about it. Because, of course, "They know what they did!" So instead of saying honestly, "Hey, you did (or didn't do) _________, and it seriously pissed me off. What the hell?", and opening up a *conversation* with the person they're pissed at, they modify their own behavior in a way that makes things more difficult for that person. Then they feel the need to tell someone what they did and why, expecting applause or pats on the back or pursed-lipped "Mmmhmm!"s. And you know what? They get it. Almost every damn time. So now while the "target" of the "retaliation" may or may not realize in the first place they did something that irritated someone else, they sure notice that they are being mistreated in some way and now there's a crowd of people taking sides in this dickish-behavior contest (that, again, they may or may not have known they were involved in). At that point? Game on.

Unless, of course, one of the parties involved realizes that what is going on is only going to escalate way beyond the original point of irritation, and does something to stop it. This is perhaps how some marriages go from dirty socks on the floor to divorce.  

In any case, my main point is this: How about rather than matching them step by step with dickish behavior, try "killing them with kindness." Or honesty. And if you REALLY want to get their goat? Be genuine about it. And I'm not even being a smartass here--I'm being totally serious. If you continually show that you are a decent person who works hard and just tries to do what's right, you'll find yourself in these dickish-behavior contests a lot less often, and when you do get tangled into one it most likely won't last as long. Nothing is lost by taking the high road once in a while, when you know what that low road is going to bring. Because seriously? You're just making more work for yourself by playing these kinds of games.

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