Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to Get Your Way

I have discovered it. The thing you have been looking for forever. And I can tell you why you'll never get it.

So I work at a Community College, and boy does the name suit this place. It is a mangled mesh of all strands that make up the fabric of our little society. Working here affords me many things, not the least of which is that I am privy to some of the most interesting human interactions of my life. And that is how I found it.

You see, I have an issue with entitlement. Specifically, with people who believe in their own entitlement. (Just to clarify, I am talking about the, "but I'm here and I need it, so make it happen," sort, not the "I've worked all my life and paid in, now I want Social Security" sort.) I watch while certain people, from all walks of life are able to get people to do things for them that they would not do for others, imposing on their time, money, energy, position, whatever. Just so long as they can get the thing they want or need and not have to follow the rules that everyone else does. This is not the stray student looking for a pencil, although that takes a big pair to come find me and ask for a school supply you have been responsible for bringing with you since 3rd grade. No, this is the "I know this is not the way it's normally done, but...." line of thinking. You know how it goes. You get it all the time. Its either a boss, coworker, subordinate, child, friend, or maybe the person trying to cut in front of the line of cars merging onto the freeway.

Today, and today only, I will throw in that I have figured out why it works for those people and why it does NOT work for me. Or you. Probably. I hope it doesn't work for you.


I thought so. Here it is: .......................................


That is it.

 I know, a huge letdown, right? But let me explain. You see, if you ask someone something, they answer you. The answer to the overreaching question is undeniably "No." But if you press on, not by pushing forward, but simply by continuing to stand there, or stay on the line in silence, or stare at the person, you can make it happen. You can get your way. You can watch the tide roll back, the waters separate and billions of people praise your name. Well, basically.

And you know why it doesn't work for you and I? We cannot do it. You either have more dignity or you have more shame. Everyone has both, but you have a majority of one or the other. If you are deficient in your dignity, you can wait. And stare. And stand there. And look hopeless. And not leave. Not hang up. Never. Until you get your way.

Try doing it sometime. Ask for something you should not get, and try to stay in place, maintaining eye contact. I guarantee you will experience such a rush of discomfort and frustration that you will look like you need to evacuate your bowels. The person will no longer be under your spell and will ask that you leave the room, lest you ruin the nice furnishings. At the very least, they will begin to be uncomfortable and forget that you were trying to impose on them entirely. What you are experiencing here is shame. The other person is experiencing your discomfort and wants the whole thing to stop. Over the phone, it is palpable.

The people who can get what they want cannot get it themselves. They are a virus, requiring a host.

Don't be a virus. You know what you need to do. You know how it works, and what the rules are. You are not different or special in the way that someone else needs to be put out to accommodate you. If no one has ever told you that, now they have. You are welcome.

Don't be a host, either.  When the shame filled virus reaches you, you have defenses. Do not let it happen. Do not argue or continue to explain why it cannot happen, why you cannot do it, why those are the rules, blah blah blah... These are openings that will be exploited by the virus to find a problem with your logic and therefore impose on you. After you've said no, just stand there, silently, staring, thinking about what it is that you want (which is for them to go away) and for once, just this one time, you will get your own way. This behavior confuses the virus better than a Z Pak. Just wait. One more minute. Don't be uncomfortable. Stand high in your dignity.

You're welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment