One of the least favorite people in my life has told me more than once that I push back too much, and that I am always making excuses. I often wonder if he ever says those things to men. I suspect not.
What he sees as me pushing back too much, I see as me attempting to add value to the workplace. He would much prefer that I just shut up and do what I’m told, but that’s just not in me. He actually uses the term “disobedient” with me, as if I’m not a grown-a$$ woman with a great deal of life experience, but actually a puppy who has just pooped on the carpet. He laments that he doesn’t have the authority to discipline anyone. I suspect he’d use a rolled up newspaper.
If I wanted to just check my brain at the door and blindly follow orders, I’d have joined the military. It has always been my experience that it’s a good idea to listen to various points of view, rather than discount them, before deciding what a best practice might be. My goal is not to aggressively have my way. My goal is to point out things that perhaps haven’t been considered so that the whole team can reach the finish line safely and efficiently. I genuinely don’t see what is wrong with that.
He views my input as a form of humiliation. But in order for me to wish to humiliate the man, I’d have to first give a shit about him on some personal level. And given his low opinion of me, I really can’t be bothered.
What he sees as me always making excuses, I see as me attempting explain and defend my actions when he attacks my reputation. He has a habit of throwing people under the bus.
He thinks I’m saying “I refuse to do this thing because I want to avoid doing it.” Or, “I only speak because I live to embarrass you.” No. I’m saying “I agree the job needs doing, but doing it that way might cause the following things to occur. Maybe we should try this slightly different approach instead.” But apparently that’s me not being a good little soldier.
In his mind, I am a troublemaker. That begs the question, “Who gets to decide who is a troublemaker?” And, “Who gets to define what trouble is?”
As far as I’m concerned, my attempt to try to improve upon an idea isn’t trouble, even if it agitates him. The fact that I’m not passive enough to allow him to make me do whatever fool thing pops into his head isn’t trouble, even if it frustrates him. I suspect that his agitation and frustration are actually related to his lack of maturity, his closed mind, and his deep-seated belief that he’s far superior to anyone else and therefore should never be questioned.
When war is going on, each side sees the other as the troublemaker. In the end, the victors get to write the history. That must be a heady experience. But maybe you shouldn’t climb up into your rigid old tank just yet. Maybe there’s room for diplomacy.
Sometimes two people are just attempting to reach a destination by using different paths. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “You might want to detour around that patch of quicksand. Just saying.” If someone said that to me, I’d give it some serious thought.
Perspective. While Native Americans see us as invaders, thieves, and perpetrators of genocide, those of us of European descent often try to desperately cling to some sort of modernized concept of manifest destiny so we won’t have to feel guilty. Who is the true troublemaker in this scenario? I’m thinking it’s not the ones who are usually called the troublemakers in our school books.
Suffragettes were called troublemakers, too. But the story of their movement can and has been written by a variety of people with a whole host of perspectives. Those who wanted to keep women down would naturally see their protests as trouble. Those who saw a problem with policy and watched these women draw attention to that problem so that it might be solved rather than ignored saw those protesters as heroes.
The late US Representative John Lewis said it best:
“What can you do to get into good trouble? There is a light inside of you that will turn on when you get into good trouble. You will feel emboldened and freed. You will realize that unjust laws cannot stop you. These laws cannot stop the truth that is in your heart and soul.”
Yes, there are people out there who delight in being trolls, who enjoy making trouble for trouble’s sake. I’m not that kind of person. If I irritate you, it’s because I’m suggesting a change that I think might be an improvement for all concerned, which you, unfortunately, have chosen to view as an inconvenient interruption by an uppity woman.
But, dammit, if I see quicksand, I’m going to speak up. Every time. What you choose to do with that information is entirely up to you.
If I really wanted to be a troublemaker, I’d just sit back and let you step into that quicksand. I’d laugh as you sank. Do you really think that’s my goal? Grow up.
Grow up, or go suck on a lollypop.
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