The Importance of How We Communicate

IMG_8920.JPG“Haven’t your parents taught you any manners?”

Taken aback by the aggressive and rather rude question, I tried to find a quick and appropriate response to the question – not an easy task for my slow-processing brain.

“Um, what is this in reference to?”

“Haven’t your parents taught you any manners?”

Taking my cue from him, I repeated myself as well.

“What is this in reference to?”

“Why don’t you just go home and work? She’s been on the phone. Why don’t you just go home?”

Again, shocked, but starting to understand the motivation behind his aggression, I respond:

“Oh, we checked with the establishment when we came in, and they said it was ok.”

“Well you need to check again. Why don’t you just go home?”

“Would you like to discuss this with me?”

“You are the definition of narcissists. You should look it up.”

And he walked out with his wife and 8 or 9 yr old son.

And so did my productivity.

Had Jessica been available (she was sitting right across from me, speaking in hushed tones on a work call), she would have Shut. Him. Down. – by bringing the manager in on the “conversation” and letting her know that this man was attacking us (which he was).

But she was working. Because we were on a work date, which really means that we’re away from the kids, working at the same table – about as date-like as sharing a cubicle together in an office. Except for the food.

Occupied as she was, Jessica did manage to roll her eyes at his rudeness, and proceeded to ignore him. But it wasn’t as easy for me to just let it go. His comments rattled me. More than that, his aggression rattled me.

I needed time to process, which worked out fine, because Jessica was on the phone. And I needed to check with the manager to make sure that we hadn’t offended anyone.

It turns out that she hears all the time about how she should run her business. People don’t like that they have to walk up to place their own orders. People don’t like that they don’t get an assigned waiter. And apparently people don’t like that others may not live the exact same way they do. But regardless of his objections, we did not offend any of the staff: “if we didn’t want people to come in with their computers, we wouldn’t have so many outlets.”

I like her.

Had the rude man given me a chance, I would have explained that our daughter takes ballet classes just up the hill, that it would take her 90 minutes to get home using public transportation, that it would take us 60 to get back home after dropping her off, plus another 50 to make the round trip  to pick her up later, so it makes more sense for us to stay in the area while she’s taking her classes.

Had he been interested in any perspective beyond his own naval, I could have informed him that the coffee shops in the area all close too early to make it worth our while, and that as far as manners go, we wouldn’t rudely begin a tirade with complete strangers quietly minding their own business and doing no harm to anyone, we checked with the staff to make sure it would be ok for us to hang out and work before settling in, we make sure to thank the waiter each time he filled up our water glasses, and are considerate with how loud we speak in close proximity to others.

But he wasn’t interested in having a conversation. He had a point to make. And it rang out loud and clear:

He had no manners, should just go home, should check on the establishment’s rules before making empty accusations, and is so self-absorbed that he’s probably a narcissist.

It’s too bad, too. Had he not been so rude, and had he engaged in a conversation with us, we may have learned something from each other.

How we communicate what we have to communicate is just as important as what we have to communicate. Probably even more so.

To put it another way: if you’re going to call someone out on being completely rude, make sure you’re not a complete jerk about it.

~ Jeremy

 

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