Friday, June 08, 2012

More honey, less vinegar... why so mean?


Could it be that there are people that either don't know or don't get the old adage: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?

Earlier in the week, @CarolynEdgar, @Luvvie and @Afrobella and I were reflecting on our time at the BWB conference. It was definitely 97% positive and 3% negative. The negative feel into two categories - folks that acted some kinda way until they knew your twitter name (and then twisted themselves into pretzel shapes to be friendly) and the rare few "popular" bloggers who believe their own press and wanted you to kiss the ring.

What confused us more than anything is - why not just be nice to everybody? Regardless of who they are? This segued into a lot of other discussion one of those being about folks on The Twitter and The Facebook who can't seem to find anything nice to say about anybody of anything.

You know the ones... you say, "It's a beautiful sunny day today" and they say "Thanks to the ozone layer, we're on day closer to extinction on this planet." Wow. Really? Okay, thanks for sharing that. I'm not just talking about the glass half-empty folks. I have my half-empty days. I'm talking about the people whose glass has been empty, cracked and on the shelf for a while. My goodness, someone please get them a cup of happy?

Last weekend, I was on a flight back from Philly. My upgrade came through and I was seated next to the most sourpuss old Caucasian man. [Plus he had a flatulence problem but that's another post.] He said down and I said hello. He ignored me. He took out his phone and made loud important phone calls until takeoff. After takeoff, the flight attendant came over and started chatting with me. We got into a discussion about spa vacations and then she wandered off. He looked at me, "What do you do for a living?" Really? I told him HR and I was a writer. All of a sudden, he had nothing but smiles and two straight hours of chitty-chat. Is that how it works? I have to be validated as something or the other before you can break off some common courtesy? Boo, sir. Boo. 

There's an HR rep I work with who started out just nasty. I mean the woman talked to me like I was cow dung on the bottom of her shoe. The meaner she got, the nicer I got. I overcommunicated, kept my tone moderate and honey-coated every word in every email and meeting until other people noticed. "Michele is so sweet and you're being so unprofessional." Finally one day she said, "Okay, I guess I don't scare you." And that was that. Ever since then, she's been one of my staunchest allies. A test? Was all that necessary?

I'm from the South. And I'm bougie as as hell. My Mom's folks are originally from Georgia and my Dad's peep are West Indian. I'm genetically predisposed to be pleasant even if it kills me. I may secretly damn you to darkest, hottest circle of hell but all I will say is, "Well thank you so much for your input. You have a great day."  It doesn't kill me to say it and we can get on to the next.

So I'm asking, BougieLand... Have you encounterd the "salty for no darn good reason" folks? How do you deal with them? Why are some folks just mean? And how hard is it to just be nice? Please explain...

29 comments:

CaliGirlED said...

 "Okay, I guess I don't scare you."...Why do people purposely try to intimidate others to gain respect??? *pulls hair out*

I will admit that I don't react well to folks who are "salty for no darn good reason". If you're not a happy person, I'll try to spread a little sunshine your way, but after a while I just sit back and watch you sulk. That can be so draining! But when I come across mean people, I either give them what they're giving or completely ignore them with the stone face of Moai! But I am working on that because I would much rather be nice to a person who is mean to either bring out the niceness that may be lying dormant in them, or to let the contrast show them for who they really are. Mean AND bitter.

That is something that I definitely admire about you Chele and I noticed it when I first came to BougieLand. And sometimes I find myself saying, "How in the hell does she do this?" Oddly enough I have attached myself to people IRL that are like this, let's pray it rubs off on me! ;-)

mickmicki said...

I always encounter "nasty for no good reason folks".  I ignore them.

Why do I want to know who the nasty bloggers are?  #nosyashades  #alwayslookingfortea

TrulyPC said...

"...completely ignore them with the stone face of Moai!"   <-- This is me all day.  Except I am not working on being nice about.  

Michele said...

It takes so much effort to be negative.  Ugh.  I ignore the terminally negative.  They exhaust the heck outta me.

TrulyPC said...

I have no patience with folks that behave like that.  

First impressions matter and it is hard for me to get past the negative to give you any of my time because more than likely there would be no point.  You are who you present yourself to be.  They can piss on their day all they want but I won't let them do it to mine.  Depending on my level of required interactions with the person I am good with sending them to email and voice mail hell. 

Penny said...

I'm working with a woman , who for whatever reason is nasty to me-in person as well as her emails.   (Lesson to Tootsie at work-it would probably be best if you did not hit the "Reply All" button when being sarcastic/nasty.)  At a meeting recently, I was bout two seconds off her who know what.  I regrouped and I talked to my manager afterwards.  He told me to chill and get out of her way to let her hang her own self.  I thought it was just me.   She is apparently ticking off other folks as well.  I wonder if her nastiness has something to do with the fact that she's creeping with a married co-worker-and yes, the entire organization knows about this.  Folks have words for her at work-words that aren't too nice.

blackprofessor said...

When I was young, my mother always quoted the "catch more flies with honey than vinegar!"  She drilled in my head to be nice to everyone since I didn't really know who I was interacting with. 

I have definitely encountered the "salty for no reason folks"! I think most of them are unhappy and rather than engage in some introspection, they want to take their frustrations out on the world.  My strategy consists of engaging them with brief but polite behavior; usually it works.     

Reads4Pleasure said...

I have a co-worker I've known 12 years through two jobs.  At job #1 we worked in a male dominated field so she used her nastiness as a way to keep the guys in line (her words, not mine) and said I was too much of a morning person for her (her explanation as to why she was so frigging grumpy when she saw me).  At current job, she's been here five years, has yet to receive a promotion and rarely gets a raise or annual bonus.  Her boss has told her a big part of the problem is her attitude. People are afraid to approach her, etc.  Her response? She doesn't have time to babysit people and their sensitive feelings.  Alrighty then ma'am.  Keep doing you as I quietly collect a raise and bonus erry year.  yes, I said ERRY!

Jubi The Great said...

I was just about to say this. Its way too much work to be a mean nasty person.

Jubi The Great said...

I strongly dislike people who are only nice to folks who they deem "worthy" based on some arbitrary barometer. It's so phony & fake. If you can't be at a minimum respectful to me as another human being then you don't need to do it at all.

M Dot said...

that pic and caption at the top though >>>

CaliGirlED said...

 THIS^^^

thinklikeRiley said...

Some folks just mean & surly. 

ASmith said...

I DESPISE being tested, especially in the workplace.  I feel like being young makes folks wanna really really see if I know what I'm doing and if my chops are up to par.  Drives me crazy.  And then they wanna go and add in being mean on top of it?  I always win at that game because I can always be nicer than you.

I've also had the "was rude to me until you knew who I was" thing played and I DON'T play that.  How you treat me from jump is how I respond to you, regardless of how your attitude changes.  I won't ever be rude back (unless you push me that far, and that is a FAR way away), but you won't ever make me forget that until you knew who I was (usually more like how I could help you) my existence was of no consequence to you and #aintnobodygottimefadat.  I think that is so incredibly rude to default to being a jerk until I prove that you shouldn't be.  I HATE that.

ASmith said...

Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face.

CaliGirlED said...

 And THIS^^^

Rob said...

We have a dude we've nicknamed Scowl here at the office because his face is stuck in a perpetual "I hate the world" look. His attitude matches. We used to go out of our way to be nice and engage. Now we ignore him. And wonder why he is still employed. #notateamplayer

ShawnSoze said...

In defense of the work mean mug - I was told that my "game face" came across as angry and because I wasn't about a whole lot of giggles, that I wasn't friendly. I was about business.  So to be more "approachable" I spend way more time than I want yaking at people in the hallway and flashing teeth. You know we negroes must appear friendly at all costs. 

Sometimes, it's not mean - it's business. 

Angel Blanca said...

 especially you negro men ;)

Angel Blanca said...

I have a face that generally does not scream "FUN!!" until I realize that there are other people around, as I tend to be going through various scenarios and conversations and to-do-list items in my head most of the time.  That said, I am never not nice, even when I encounter those who are determined to be Debbie or Dougie Downer.  In fact, the Downer family members are recipients of my relentless sunshine.  Heck, I say "God bless you" when someone sneezes on the television, and that's no different from what I do in person.

On the other hand, I'm shy and tend to be reticent until I've made a connection with at least one other person, so you'll catch me observing much more than anything else...at least initially.

Angel Blanca said...

Hmmm, it just dawned on me that I'll be meeting many of my colleagues for the first time tomorrow when we gather together for commencement.  Because we all work in different campuses, many of us will not know who the other is aside from a name on the bottom of an e-mail or forum post.  This should be interesting!

The_A said...

That caption could read "I have a blank stare on my face because nobody's home right now, please leave a message at the beep."

Seriously, I'm a huge introverted thinker & realized late in life that my "time spent wandering aimlessly or thinking deeply from my happy place" is often mistaken for unfriendliness, snobishness or being angry. That really upset me because I'm not ignoring you. Chances are I didn't hear a word you said. I'll happily speak as soon as I return from the present mental excursion. I try to keep it under control in public now that I'm aware of it.I also have issues faking niceness. I'm a genuinely happy person who likes almost everyone so if I don't like you, I'm just better off leaving you to be you over there. Chances are, you'll have no idea I would rather not be around you unless I need you to understand that clearly.Now if someone you don't know speaks to you & you intentionally ignore them, you're a posturing worthless bum with low self esteem who should be shunned by all good society & plain and simple

CaliGirlED said...

 "You know we negroes must appear friendly at all costs. " LOL & SMH!!! Sad but true!

CaliGirlED said...

 "I say "God bless you" when someone sneezes on the television"...You are such an angel!

"On the other hand, I'm shy and tend to be reticent until I've made a
connection with at least one other person, so you'll catch me observing
much more than anything else...at least initially."...Ditto

CaliGirlED said...

 THIS TOO ^^^

Marioned said...

I think the reason so many walk aroud looking mean and scowling is that they are internalizing thoughts feeling........etc.  Some are not aware of it and others are and could care less. 

But what makes life so special is people and  relationships and making connections.  You get what you give and folk need to be more socially aware.  You do have to like everyone but its more about  putting out positive energy in the universe because it will defintely  serve you well!!   

C Nelson said...

 All of this. I'm not ignoring you, I'm not being rude to you (believe me, you'll know when I want to be rude to you!) I'm probably just in my own head thinking my thoughts and trying to get my work done. After the work's done, sure, we can smile and chitchat and whatever, I promise. Till then, how about we let me do what I'm there to do and worry a little less about whether I'm decorative enough while I'm doing it?

Nikki Anderson said...

Being friendly isn't "cool" to some people. And, if you have to prove yourself before receiving a common courtesy from a person, you can guarantee that they are a game-player, competitive and petty.

Brneyed1 said...

"...I'm a huge introverted thinker & realized late in life that my "time spent wandering aimlessly or thinking deeply from my happy place" is often mistaken for unfriendliness, snobishness or being angry."  <--THISIt took YEARS for many people at work to learn recognize my "Processing Face" and stop accusing me of being Miss CrabbyPants.  I didn't even realize that I made that face until one of my girlfriends stuck a mirror in front of me, mid-process.  I did NOT look happy/friendly/pleasant.

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