4 Things I’ve Learned About Dealing With A**holes — Arianna Bradford
Assholes are everywhere, we know this. Who counts as an asshole is truly subjective, but the consensus seems to be that dealing with them is miserable and akin to a day of diarrhea and spotty cell phone service.
If you’re like me and you talk about things people don’t like to hear as much as I do, you sometimes deal with more than your share of assholes. It can be emotionally and mentally draining, and it can leave you feeling as if people are trash.
All of them aren’t, but some of them are. And you’ll deal with more of them than you’d ever truly like to.
I’ve learned a good bit from talking to assholes, and I shall impart some of this wisdom to you. We start with a big one:
I can hear people hissing at me across the country. I promise that I’m right about this. And it will help you in the future.
Thing is, we hate giving any credit to shitty people. We want them to be wrong about everything because they’re being dicks, and a deep-set sense of justice within even the worst of us says that dicks don’t deserve victory.
They don’t, but sometimes they earn it, and we need to be open to granting it.
Sometimes, just as someone can be polite and wrong, you’re going to encounter people who are rude, but right. It could be anything from ignoring an important point to focus on a grammar mistake, to correctly sourcing an historical article or statistic. This is infuriating, but instead of giving them a middle finger and immediately refusing to acknowledge their accuracy, you instead do two things:
- Ask yourself, “does this take away from my point?” Using the wrong “your” in your haste to respond, for example, doesn’t take away from a well-made point about universal healthcare.
- Admit they’re right. Take the teeth out of their reply by admitting they’re correct. A simple “I read the article, and I’ll admit that I got x wrong, however, my central point is still x and here’s why…” puts the ball in the asshole’s court to either actually hold reasonable discourse, or to just keep harping on the one point they had. The latter of which means you’ve broken their brain AND you learned something, and that’s what winning really feels like.
Also, a note: sometimes the asshole will be right and you’re just going to be plain wrong. In those situations, while pride would dictate otherwise, admit they’re right. Realize you’ve learned something today. Then block them and talk shit about them to your friends.
I never said I was a good source of advice. Trusting me was your fault.
That may be the weirdest sentence I’ve ever typed.
In my day to day, I’ve come to realize that dealing with difficult people involves mental and emotional muscle. As with any muscle, the less you use it, the weaker it gets.
To be perfectly fair, I’ve had practice in this for years, even before I started doing this. I used to work in insurance claims, where my job was to tell people all day long that they were at-fault in accidents. As you’d imagine, very rarely did this news ever go well; it didn’t matter whether it was true or not.
In the very beginning of my job, I’d feel horribly nervous dialing up the guilty party. They’re going to yell at me. I’d think. They’re going to be so mad at me!
And then, one day, I challenged that thought. So what if they were angry at me? Would it change the truth? Would it make me any less correct? Would their yelling cancel out the fact that they would have to pay money for their accident?
No, no, no, and no. And with that realization came a certain calm. I didn’t have a problem delivering bad news and explaining my position again, no matter how heated conversations got.
Fast forward to now, and all of my time spent being insulted and targeted has made me a lot harder to upset.
For example, before I released my book, I was terrified to read the comments. I was worried that a one-star review would break me and result in me crying into my ice cream in a corner somewhere.
Fast forward four months, countless anti-racist conversations with big-time racists, and innumerable social media blockings later, and I finally did receive that legitimately negative review. Instead of anger or sadness or shame, I felt nothing beyond excitement and mild amusement. It was incredibly empowering to realize that a former fear was…former. I wasn’t afraid of a slight struggle anymore, and it felt GREAT.
In my dealings with these people, I’ve also strengthened my pettiness muscles, so I’ve also made the review into an ad.
Originally published at https://www.theariannabradford.com on November 24, 2020.