Anti Bullying Vaccine Uncovered – A short story

Yesterday Jack and Jim, life-long friends, had a discussion about dealing with difficult people.  Jim is older than Jack and always played somewhat of a mentor role for him.  Jack is about to find out he has had a major flaw in the way he is dealing with difficult people.  He came to Jim for advice but the answers he got were shocking and far from what he was expecting:

  • Jack: Jim I need your advice on something.  I am trying to find a rule to help me deal with difficult people; when should I confront them and stand my ground, and when to be accommodating and let things go.
    • Jim: Interesting.
  • Jack: Sometimes people do and say inappropriate things to you.  When do you let it go and ignore it, and when do you stop and confront it?
    • Jim: Let me ask you a different but related question: what percentage of the time do you feel you let things go and what percentage of the time you confront?
  • Jack: I think I let things go way too often.  I am a pushover.
    • Jim: Is this your opinion or of others around you?
  • Jack: my opinion
    • Jim: do people around you agree?

Jack: no, they say I am too much of a fighter.  Too tough.  But I disagree.

  • Jim: You feel you are not standing up to yourself enough, while people around you are telling you that you are too confrontational.  Where is this confusion coming from?
  • Jack: So I need to be more yielding?
    • Jim: I wish it was this simple.
  • Jack: Is there something more major here that I need to pay attention to?
    • Jim: Maybe and maybe not.
  • Jack: Come on.  No need for the suspense.  What do you mean?
    • Jim: Why do you want to know the answer?
  • Jack: I am seeking wisdom that comes from understanding, awareness, and acceptance of self.  I want to understand self more.  Be wiser in dealing with self and others.  People are amazing to me.  My interactions with people tell me a lot about myself.  My perception of people is only a reflection of me.  And I want to take this great learning opportunity to “see” self, and learn.
    • Jim: But learning about self might be painful sometimes, especially if you are confronted with something that is not pleasing about yourself.
  • Jack: I am who I am.   The truth, no matter how painful, is better than ignorance.
    • Jim: In that case, let me elaborate.  In dealing with difficult people, there is a third option you did not mention.  You mentioned confronting difficult people or letting things go.  But some choose a third option: Isolating themselves from difficult people.
  • Jack: I do that a lot.

Jim laughs.

  • Jack: are you saying this is a problem?
    • Jim: well, insulating self from difficult people on the short term is a quick solution, and common upon people who have your personality.
  • Jack: what personality?
    • Jim: Commanding and Rapid.  You want things your way and fast.  Sometimes when people are not “playing nice,” you just pull away, sparing yourself the agony of having to “deal” with them. So you choose not to confront someone as the confrontation is painful.  Also you choose not to accommodate, because that is also painful.  Instead you just pull away and isolate yourself from the person.
  • Jack: Very true.  Isn’t that wise?
    • Jim: Short term maybe.  But long term, what is that doing to you?
  • Jack: You mean I would have no friends?
    • Jim: I wish it was that simple.
  • Jack: Oh come on.
    • Jim laughs.
  • Jack: I disengage and avoid dealing with the difficult people because I cannot change people, neither should I try.  People will change when they are ready to change.  I mean it is much easier for me to stay away from people who get on my nerves.  Why should I bother?
    • Jim: As I said short term, it might seem like a good strategy but long term…
  • Jack: What happens long term?
    • Jim: Let me give you a similar example: When we were kids in school, remember the vaccine shots we used to take?
  • Jack: yes.  Hated them.

Both laugh

  • Jim: What is in these shots?
  • Jack: I am not a doctor, but to put it in layman terms, they contain small doses of an illness injected in the body so the body becomes immune to the disease.  So they expose us to the sickness so we become immune from it.  So… are you saying I need to accept controlled exposure to difficult people so to be immune from them?
    • Jim: You are rushing into conclusions.  First, you have to look at how immunity comes about.  After the injection, the body starts dealing with the injected germs and learns how to combat them.  This allows the body to create the “antidote” to the sickness.  Now, when a really threatening germ invades the body, it will be ready to fight back and defeat the intruder.
  • Jack:
    • Jim: Sometimes these immunity shots cause a slight fever.  In addition to them being painful.  But we take the shot and endure the controlled pain so we can get immunity from major diseases.
  • Jack: So what I have been doing is refusing to take the immunity shots?
    • Jim: That is one problem.  The other is that even the least difficult person will cause you to feel bad.  Every time you choose to stay away from a difficult person, you miss a chance to learn how to deal with even more difficult people.  Staying away from difficult people becomes a convenient solution for you, so you end up not learning how to deal with them.  If you do not have immunity, even the slightest encounter with someone difficult causes “sickness.”
  • Jack: Wow. I never thought about it that way.  So are you saying that the issue is not whether I confront or accommodate.
    • Jim: Exactly.
  • Jack: So the key is to deal with the difficult person and not always rush to insulate myself from dealing with them.
    • Jim: True.  I like the way you used the word insulate.  Because sometimes, we try to stay in a very hygienic environment to prevent getting sick.  But that isolation causes even worse sickness and even makes us more vulnerable to even the weakest virus.
  • Jack: So true.  So whether to confront or accommodate, it is not an issue.  The main thing is not to refuse to deal with difficult people.
    • Jim: Yes, but there are certain types of difficult people you certainly want to stay away from, but these are the exception not the rule.  Some people are very harmful and evil.  Of course you want to stay away from these types.  But most people  even when they are difficult but they are not dangerous.  So you have to use your judgment.  And your judgment will get better with practice.
  • Jack: So I came to you with a question, but got an answer to a totally different question.
    • Jim: Next time we meet we can maybe discuss when to confront and when to accommodate.  Because that is an important question.  But not as important as putting the encounters with difficult people into proper context.
  • Jack: Agreed.


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