Why women so often don’t say what they mean is beyond me. I know, I know. That’s a really broad statement. Men can suffer from the same thing. But, I’ve known women for a long time, and I am proud to say that I am one myself, and I’ve noticed a definite trend in verbal misrepresentation among a lot of women.
It almost makes me feel sorry for all of our men.
I was listening to part of a conversation in the store the other day. I did not know this woman, but I now know a good deal about her. She was talking away, loudly, on her cell phone as she worked her way through the store’s aisles. Since I don’t know her and she doesn’t know me, I’m going to use her as bad example. Plus, she’s not here to defend herself, so this makes things even more convenient.
The first clue I had that this woman did not mean what she said was that she began at least three topics by claiming one statement as truth…and then ended the same topic by claiming something totally different. Here’s one example.
“Well sure, you can bring that corn corn thing you did last year, if that’s what you and the kids enjoyed. (pause) Well, sure, if that was easy for you and that’s what you liked, go ahead and bring it. (pause) I prefer green bean casserole, but I can throw that together real quick while the turkey’s in the oven…after I’ve finished the mashed potatoes & gravy, stuffin’, homemade yeast rolls and Aunt Marty’s cranberry salad. It won’t take more’n a couple minutes to throw together once I got the house all cleaned. I know your dad likes green bean casserole better than that corn thing, too. (pause) Oh no, honey, you make whatever you want. I was just sayin’ that I prefer green bean casserole. I sure did miss it last year when you brought your corn thing. (pause) Well then, okay, sure, you can bring a green bean casserole…if you want. You do whatever you want. I’m just happy for the help.”
This, my friends, is called passive-aggression, and it is epidemic among American women. We’ve all heard it. Most of us have used it. We’ve all been exhausted by it. Passive-aggression is a form of manipulation that is the equivalent of a mental and emotional wrestling match. If we want a quick way to make people check out of a relationship, passive-aggression is the way to go. Or, maybe our friends and family will just rise to meet the challenge and square off to try to beat us at our own manipulative game. That’s always fun.
The second clue that I had in understanding that this woman perhaps did not mean what she said is that I heard her apologize to at least four people for blocking the aisles with her cart and/or herself. She did this very sweetly and graciously each time (while still talking on the phone)…but she did not stop blocking the aisles. When we apologize over and over for behavior we are not willing to change, our apologies become meaningless. We break trust with the people around us.
The third and final clue that led me to believe that this stranger did not mean what she said was when she was standing in line at the check-out. She told the person on the phone that she was was supposed to meet Misty in five minutes at Bob Evans…twenty minutes away. She said that she wasn’t planning on stopping at the store, but that she thought she’d better kill some time in between appointments or she’d be early and have to sit and wait in her car for Misty to get there. She’d never been to this store before and had heard all kinds of people talking about it. How was she supposed to know there’d be so many great deals?! She’d text Misty when she got out to the car to let her know she was runnin’ late.
Bummer for Misty.
We all run late from time to time; that’s just the way life is. However, when we perpetually run late or allow others to wait on us for our own personal convenience, we are saying that our time is more important than their time. It’s selfish and inconsiderate. It’s like being the first one in line for the food at a party for which we did not RSVP.
Okay, okay, I made this lady up. Or did I? Don’t we all know someone like her? Haven’t we all been her from time to time? When we say what we mean and mean what we say, we are showing people that we value who they are and that they matter to us. We make people feel treasured when we deal thoughtfully and honestly with them. And we all appreciate the same courtesy.
Challenge: Say what you mean. Mean what you say. If you don’t get what you want with honesty and integrity, accept defeat graciously. On the flip side, refuse to be manipulated by the people around you. When someone tries to power struggle you into taking green bean casserole, know in your heart that you are free to take your corn thing.