I am both horrified and humiliated that the inspiration for this post came from a sentence uttered on the Real Housewives of NY. I don’t like ANY of those women and I have no idea why I am compelled to watch the damn show. Alas, I give into my compulsion with unrestrained glee.
Here’s what was said: “Say what you mean but don’t say it mean.” I couldn’t agree more! In the book that I’m currently writing I have a chapter on saying things in a way that gets your point across without saying it the way you might really want to say it. Tempting as it may be.
For example, when my hubby and I were first dating, he made us dinner. I don’t eat very much in one sitting and was done pretty quickly. As the coffee table was a train wreck, the only flat surface was the lid of his closed laptop. So, I put my plate on it. He looked at me for a long moment and said, “Can you please move your plate?” He said it sweetly but I knew what he meant. So I said to him, “Do you mean, ‘Move your fuckin’ plate off my computer before I kill you bitch?’” He about died laughing because that was EXACTLY what he meant (though in a much less caustic way), but of course he would never say it in those words because I’d kill him in his sleep. It’s all about that catching more bees with honey thing.
So here’s a completely unedited, first draft, so not finished, needs serious help, unpublishable at this point excerpt from the book I’m writing now that’ll give you some suggestions for how to say, “GO TO HELL” in a way that’s slightly less offensive.
2) Think before you speak
“You son of a bitch, prick, asshole, mother fu…” Yep, so often that is exactly what we are thinking when mad. That, or something like it. And while the taste of those words and the sheer delight you feel when they roll off your tongue is beyond bliss, always first try and remember the consequences of saying delicious sentences like that.
Clearly, I’m not one to mince words. I pretty much say what I feel, when I feel it. Doing so makes my life so much better than it ever was before I learned how to say what I think. Feeling free to speak your mind is one of the most liberating feelings in the world. I only learned how to do it in my mid-30s. It took that many years to stop worrying about what everyone else thought and to start worrying about what I thought. But (and this is the key), I always consider the WAY I say things before I say them, though it is NOT always easy to do so. Especially for someone like me with the mouth of a trucker. I never met a 4-letter word that I didn’t like. The “f” word is my favorite. I can come up with so many creative ways to use that word it boggles the mind. Because of my affinity for cussing, it can be incredibly hard for me to not sometimes blurt out a line of expletives that would make the most hardened criminal blush. I find it to be incredibly stress relieving to just exhaust my cuss word vocabulary when angry. Alas, if I’m aiming that foul mouth at another person, it does absolutely nothing to solve whatever issue has annoyed me or hurt my feelings. This is where the “think before you speak” suggestion comes into play.
I want to warn you before you read further in this section—there are going to be cuss words and they aren’t going to be pretty. But I say them to make a point, I promise.
Let’s take a look at what goes through my brain and what actually ends up coming out of my mouth in a couple different scenarios.
Scenario 1: A woman at the office, who is a stupid idiot and I don’t even know how she got or keeps her job, does everything in her power to make me look bad. While at a meeting she takes full credit for an idea of mine that will make the company a crazy amount of money.
What goes on in my head: “Bitch, I’m going to kill you!!!” (I reluctantly refrain from leaping across the conference room table with a pair of scissors in my hand.) “You couldn’t come up with that idea if you had 2 brains because you are a stupid cow who needs help putting on her shoes! I fucking hate you and hope you die a slow and very painful death! BITCH!!!!!”
What I actually say aloud: “That’s a great idea! I remember when I first mentioned it to you in your office a few weeks ago. I’m so happy that you liked my idea enough to bring it up at the meeting today.” (I say this in front of everyone at the meeting.)
Benefit to handling it this way: The point gets made to everyone in the meeting that I am the one who came up with the idea. The point also gets made that she’s tried to take credit for it. So instead of seeming like the smartest person in the room (which we KNOW she isn’t), she instead seems like an idea-thief, which she is, and now everyone knows it. By not going to my dark place, armed with scissors and foul language, I’ve won the battle. To me, that’s the ultimate success.
Scenario 2: My significant other obviously checks out a hot chick with no regard for how that will make me feel. (Grant doesn’t do this, but Lord knows others have!)
What goes on in my head: “You. Complete. Asshole. I’M STANDING RIGHT HERE!!! I know someone who is SO NOT GETTING LAID anytime in the near future. WTF? Am I not good enough for you anymore? As if you are so fucking hot. Please. I’d like to rip your pecker off and jam it down your throat.”
What I actually say aloud: “Honey, it really hurts my feelings when you do that. I’d appreciate it if you showed me more respect.”
Benefit to handling it this way: I’m not putting him on the defensive or the offensive, which we all know solves nothing and usually just causes a huge fight where he’ll deny checking the other chick out anyway, then accuse me of calling him a liar. Of course, even with the rational sentence I just uttered, he’ll still probably deny it, but we’ll both know the truth. When you “attack” someone with anger and cussing, their instant response is to defend themselves. That doesn’t help anything. So, while I was so angry I could have, as my mom used to say, spit nails, I reeled in the anger and instead made him feel like a heel. Being honest about how a lack of respect makes you feel is healthy, because you’ve gotten it off your chest, and it will hopefully also be an effective deterrent to him doing it again.
One time though…: Okay, so I haven’t always been a saint with the way I handle these situations. One summer, while at the beach, my boyfriend at the time stared so hard at this hot girl that it’s a miracle his eyes didn’t start bleeding. As annoyed as I was, I bit my tongue until he muttered under his breath, “Mmmm…mmmm…mmmmm…” while checking out her ass. So, yeah, my head exploded. I got up, walked over to her and said, “It’s clear my boyfriend wants to fuck you instead of me. Do you have any interest in that, cause if you do, he’s yours.” She lowered her sunglasses, looked him up and down, and dismissively said, “No, thanks.” It took all the strength in my body not to DIE laughing in his face. But I didn’t. I let her dismissal stand on its own. He was mortified, but he got the damn point. Over the next 3 years and until we broke up, he never again checked out a chick to where I could tell he was doing it (God bless sunglasses, I’m sure).
Lesson to be learned: While it is often beneficial to say things in an honest, yet reasonable way, sometimes you have to let your hair down and take a different avenue. In this case, it was the 3rd time I’d caught him checking other girls out and I was DONE with it. Even though my strategy wasn’t exactly subtle, it worked. Sometimes, you have to get creative in what you say and how you say it. You don’t always have to be a reasonable saint. Just remember to assess what the reaction will be before you go off on some tangent of verbal karate as it’s a positive outcome that you are looking for. While it may feel wonderful to spit like a viper, it usually accomplishes nothing but making the situation worse. And that’s the last thing we want to have happen.
So, that’s my little excerpt. Please forgive it for not being edited or even well-written. The book is still in the first-draft stage. I haven’t even reread what I’ve written yet.
Hard to believe that RHONY actually said something interesting that ties to my book. I’m quite sure I’ve never heard anything intelligent or helpful on that show before. Have a great weekend, everyone!