Dealing with Dismissal

Today I wanted to write a more in-depth post about something that's been bothering me for a long time: the words, "My bad."



Allow me to explain where I am coming from with a little story.
In university, I shared an apartment with a friend of mine who I call "Hannah." Hannah, for the most part was a good friend and a generally fun person to hang out with on a Saturday night. One day, I realized that a few things in my room were missing - a $20 bill, a pair of scissors, some snacks I had in my desk that I was saving for a late night study session. Small things but things that should not be missing in the first place. I did some investigating and I found out that my roommate secretly held two parties (there were Facebook events made) behind my back. I don't think she was the one who stole my things but I firmly believe that party hosts are responsible for their guests. Now I'm not generally a confrontational person but I knew in this case I had to put my foot down - I was being disrespected and I hated that I felt I couldn't trust someone I considered to be my friend. I plucked up my courage and rehearsed what I would say to her for days before finally sitting Hannah down in the living room to tell her that I was upset that she didn't just say to me she wanted a party and how uncomfortable I now felt in my own home. Her response? "My bad. I forgot to tell you," as she continued watching TV.


It was that moment I realized how much I hated those awful dismissive words, "my bad." It's not an apology, it's not an admission of guilt, and it's definitely not a conversation closer. Here I was with, what I think is, a legitimate concern and she just shrugged it off as if I was the one who was crazy for having a problem. It was incredibly hurtful to me because as someone who had a hard time being direct, she made a lot of my fears come true. I was lied to and I felt as though the core of my being wasn't taken seriously. I was, as you can imagine, quite upset. 

It's been years since then and my perspective has changed a bit. I've learned quite a few things from that incident and I wanted to share my thoughts with you all today: 

  • You can't control how people react to a situation. I know that if anyone ever came to talk to me firmly, but honestly, to tell me that I made them uncomfortable in any way, my first instinct would be to apologize right away to rectify the situation. I operated under the assumption that most people are like me and would behave like I would - say 'sorry' for hurt feelings and and acknowledge the misunderstanding, then take steps to assure that it will not happen again. My mistake was that people don't behave in the same way as I do and it's was wrong of me to assume that they would. I still believe that I had every right to be upset at Hannah for lying to me but to be upset over the way she reacted was a waste of time. I got my point across by telling her that it was what she did was wrong. That's all you can really do - be direct and upfront. How people react to this is no longer your problem but theirs. 
  • Don't let dismissal discourage you from being direct and honest. After this incident, I resorted to being passive-aggressive for a while which, incidentally leads to other problems. I guess I thought that if being direct gets you nowhere then at least you can get your anger out through a passive-aggressive approach, right? Wrong! A lot of times people simply don't realize how their behavior would hurt others. Passive-aggression keeps these people ignorant of their flaws. Just because some people don't respond well to directness doesn't mean that everyone is like that too. Firm honesty is always the best approach. 
  • Being direct is not the same as being aggressive. Here's a word I want everyone to incorporate into their vocabulary: Tact. There's a time and place for everything and there's a way to say things that doesn't add fuel to flames. If you go into a situation at a level 8 anger more likely than not your honesty is going to sound a lot like an angry rant. Make sure you're calm and collected before you go and tell someone off. Like Winston Churchill once said, "Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip."
  • Open yourself up to constructive criticism as well. Sometimes we get so caught up in how we personally felt victimized that we forget that we may not be so perfect ourselves. If they have a laundry list of things they're not happy about, listen (even if it's difficult to hear, listen). Maybe you'll get a better understanding of where they're coming from. 
  • If they won't talk, find your own solution: I'm not a big fan of ultimatums but sometimes you really just have to put your foot down. If I could go back to that day with Hannah I would immediately offer a solution after attempting to open a discussion towards this form of unacceptable roommate behavior. "I don't like that you're holding parties here without telling me. If this happens again, I'm leaving the apartment because I would rather pay money to break a lease and feel safe in my own home than continue living in an uncomfortable situation." Done! Now, the ball is in their court and you've done all you can to take control of a bad situation. 

12 comments

  1. These are great tips for dealing with getting the brush off, babe. SO frustrating when someone has done something to hurt you (either intentionally or not), and you take the time to put that hurt aside to thoughtfully and respectfully address the situation, only to have them shrug it off. UM, NO. NOT COOL. Being direct + upfront is awesome advice. :)

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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  2. Nice tips!

    xx

    http://www.madridforniagirl.com/

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  3. So sorry this happened to you- but good for you for confronting her even if she didn't give you the kind of response or apology you deserved! You're so right, being assertive is not the same thing as being aggressive!

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  4. You've completely inspired me with this post and you've got some great points! Sorry this happened to you, I'm the same and assume people will react the same as me so it's sad and a bit of a shock when they don't. Even though the experience wasn't nice it's good that you learnt a few things from it and shared them with us. I could see this post helping a lot of people <3 xxx

    Rebecca Coco

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  5. Great tips!
    I could definitely use these tips as I normally suck it up when people don't appropriately apologize.

    Happy new year!

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  6. I really liked this post, and I agree with what you said!

    Never heard that Winston Churchill quote before, but I'll definitely keep it in mind :)

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  7. Dear Deborah, thank you for this honest and really wise post. So sorry for you that you made this bad experiences. This girl "Hannah" on the other side I think taught you a lot, but unfortunately this learning belonged to the things which hurt. It's really interesting that during our daily walk I just had today with my husband we talked exactly about the same topic and I told my husband that you shouldn't expect that other people would react in the same way as he does and I thank you for confirming here my taughts. I hope really a lot of people will read what you wrote here as I agree to all the things you mentioned. And I think if I would have been personally known this things earlier in my life some things would have had happen to me ...

    Wish you by all my heart that such things will never happen again to you and you will never hear again "My bad" <3

    xx from Germany/Bavaria, Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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  8. Hi Deborah!! I'm soo glad to be reading your posts, and I can understand your struggle back then. :/ I myself am living with a roommate and I'd say we're doing pretty well; we actually signed a roommate agreement back in September to settle things (and it was required). I love reading your thoughts and tips- I know I definitely need to work on being a more direct person and a person to think of alternatives/solutions. Enjoy a wonderful weekend!

    -Nikkie
    Chic Nikkie

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  9. I couldn't agree with this more. I DESPISE when people say "my bad," it's so rude and really just says that the person doesn't care about what you're saying at all. I'm sorry you had to go through that :[ But really everyone should read this post...and take it seriously. It's not that hard to have a normal conversation about things when problems arise. People can just be so immature!

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  10. Good points!

    it's incredible how far you can get when you try to be tactful in a conversation - I was nodding along as I was reading that point, haha! That saying "you get more flies with honey" springs to mind too! :)

    Away From The Blue
    2015 Wardrobe Inventory Linkup

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  11. Wow, what a post (said in the best way possible, of course)! I can totally relate to the feeling you describe when you tell someone the way you feel about a situation and they just shrug it off. It has happened to me one too many times, and it's never something fun or easy to deal with.

    I would react in the same way as you write about someone coming up and telling me I made them uncomfortable (SORRY all around) in any way. I do also agree that you can't handle (or even judge) how some will react to you speaking honestly. It's unfortunate that you had to be the one most bothered. Thank you for the advice on not letting someone who is dismissive deter you from being honest and forward in the future. Candor is one of my personality traits I'm proud of and continually think about. You are so right that it can feel like you're doing something wrong when someone doesn't bat an eyelash over it (or, dismiss everything but flip out at you).

    I am in love with that Winston Churchill quote. I had never heard it before but that is so completely beautifully comical, LOVE it. That is such a good point that being truthful does not mean be ruthless or aggressive. As for the criticism comment; YESSSSS. I am/was (on hiatus currently) an art major and have been in "bajillions" of art classes. If I've learned one thing from art that I can relate into the "real world" it would be that CRIT HAPPENS. Take it, embrace it, love it. Just know what criticism is honest and what may be said to intentionally bother you. Taking crit to heart can be a dangerous thing, too.

    Thanks for sharing such an awesome and open post!!
    Much Love,
    -Stephanie Eva

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  12. wonderfully written and I fully agree with you...being open and direct is not the same as being aggressive and we should never feel bad for wanting to get things out in the open.

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Thank you for your comments! I read every single one :]