You know how animals, when they sense weakness in another animal, will spring forth and violently take that animal down? Well, I have to admit, as a human animal, I feel that urge from time to time.
It's not physical weakness that pushes my buttons, it's a type of mental or personality weakness. Nor is it a physical response that I have to it. It's a mental one. Basically I lose respect for the person. And it's hard for me to deal constructively with someone I don't respect.
I really felt it strongly recently when a young professional who doesn't know me well approached me gingerly about some revisions that needed to be made on something I had written. When someone approaches me like they're scared I might get offended, I get offended...haha.
Sure, sometimes my ego gets a little bruised when someone doesn't like my work. But this wasn't that. They had changed their mind about what they wanted and wanted something new. Not a problem. This is my job. While we all have bad days, I'd estimate that 95% of the time, I take edits in stride and, about 80% of those times, I actually feel the edits have made the piece equal to—or better than—what it was before. So I'm open to edits. Once I hand my work over, I usually hand my ownership over with it. So when someone approaches me like I'm going to get offended, it offends me. I'm a professional. You're a professional. Let's handle this like professionals. No need for kid gloves.
But this person was clearly a little intimidated. And for a split second, I wanted to give them legitimate reason to feel that way. In my mind, they showed their weakness to me in a way I felt was personal and unfair, and I wanted to prove them right...haha. Instead, I stopped myself, brushed off my attitude and accepted their comments with a smile. But I have to say, it was very difficult in the moment because I wanted to make them squirm...just because I knew I could. And just so nobody misunderstands, I'm not proud of having those feelings.
A lot of things are going on here. And none of them have to do with the other person. It was me that got offended by their misjudgment of me. It was me that took their fear personally. It was me that judged their behavior "weak", rather than writing it off to inexperience or ignorance or whatever it was. Heck, it's possible they were intimidated because I'm respected in their organization and have way more experience. Maybe they're not accustomed to working with consultants. Who knows? But what it triggered in me was all on me. Every time someone else triggers a knee-jerk reaction in you, it's all on you. And it's time to explore the reasons why.
I discussed this with a friend not that long ago and they were very tough with me about why I consider certain behaviors, such as wishy-washiness, weak. Aside from the fact that the definition of wishy-washy IS weak...haha...I imagine it's because, somewhere in my past, I've been on the other side of the dynamic, understood why the other person saw my intimidation or lack of decisiveness as undesirable trait, and moved beyond it. A lack of decisiveness, btw, is one of my pet peeves, especially in the professional arena. And my experience has been that it's mostly women who have a hard time deciding on things and keeping with their decision. In fact, it's kind of a stereotype of women...our prerogative is to change our minds.
Everyone has the right to change their minds. In fact, I think it's a sign of strength to acknowledge you've made a wrong decision and take steps to correct it. But some individuals embrace their lack of decisiveness as a dominant character trait, rather than an occasional thing. And yes, I find it annoying and weak. Annoying, because it inconveniences those who are effected by the constant changes in whim. And weak, because the circular "I don't know. What do you want to do? I don't know. What do YOU want to do?" thing, in my opinion, comes from a lack of self knowledge, fear of making a wrong decision and/or a desire to please everyone involved. But I digress. It can just as easily be considered weak to allow that crap to push my buttons.
I do know that the reason I'm triggered by people who seem intimidated by me is because of my own insecurities. I'm not just a heavyset person, I'm nearly 6' tall. Even when I'm not heavy, I'm large. And I have a naturally loud voice. And I walk fast and with determination. So I can see how some 5'2" woman (again, it's mostly women, simply because men, in general, are less *physically* intimidated by women) with a petite build and a soft demeanor would find me scary as hell.
But it's hurtful, because I've never even so much as shoved another person before. In fact, I know a couple of women just barely grazing 5' tall that I'm not so sure I could beat...haha. I'm generally a kind, peaceful person. I mean, everyone loses their temper from time to time, and I can see where I might have other "intimidating" aspects to my personality, but people who don't know me don't know any of that. In fact, unless you have screwed me over, betrayed me or are a customer service person who happens upon me when I'm in a mood, I have never given you a legitimate reason to fear me. Again, other people's impressions of you are more about them than you.
Nobody likes to be misunderstood. And large people who have lived most of their life being chided and stared at for their size are insecure about it. People just want to be accepted and given a chance as they are. And whether you're critically measured according to your size, skin color, looks, sexual preference, religion or any other superficial measure, acceptance flows more easily to some of us than others.
So there's a lot going on when you judge others and/or feel judged and want to attack. When I was younger, I just judged. And attacked. And I told myself that the other person was the reason and they're just assholes and they deserved it. But the more conscious I become, the less I allow myself to get away with that and the more I look at stuff like this as an opportunity to show me where I need to work on myself.
I read a post today about how some "egotistical twits shoved their inferiority complexes down [someone's] throat to the point they could no longer bear the subjugation and so they left [their job]." I imagine we all know what that's like...haha. And while many would look at that statement and say "amen", I tend to look at stuff like that and say "I doubt you're quite the victim you paint yourself to be."
For every "egotistical twit" there is out there, there's someone who doesn't quite understand the mechanics of their own insecurities. Egotistical twits and those who are easily offended by them find each other for a reason, imo. And as long as we keep making ourselves right and the other person wrong in these situations, we'll find ourselves suffocating beneath a never-ending pile of egotistical twits. Only by examining and healing our own egos, fears and insecurities can we set ourselves free.
There will always be egotistical twits in this world, and peace doesn't come from grinning and bearing them. It comes from understanding what buttons they push within us and healing those tender spots so that their issues cease in becoming a part of ours.