People behaving badly!

Now, as you may know, the focus of my articles comes out of my interaction with patients in the past and with individuals in the present, or stories I have heard about from others. Some of the things I have seen, experienced, or heard in the past couple of months have inspired me to want to talk about people behaving badly.

First, I want to say nothing warrants yelling at somebody, getting in someone’s face, or putting your hands on someone unless it is a matter of life, death, or self-defense. Nothing warrants pointing a stern finger in an adult’s face. Nothing warrants grabbing, pushing, hitting, or shoving another adult. Again, it is never warranted unless it is a matter of life or death or self-defense.

There are certain groups of individuals from whom one may experience bad behaviors. You may experience bad behaviors from someone in the workplace who is very rude, disrespectful, bullying, or intimidating and is on your level (not your boss, not your supervisor). The next group could be higher-ups like a boss or supervisor who is rude, disrespectful, bullying, or intimidating. Another group might be individuals or groups of people whom you do not know well or at all who are rude, disrespectful, bullying, or intimidating. And lastly, family, someone to whom you are related like a parent, sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle, grandparent, niece, nephew, grandchild, spouse, or in-law who is rude, disrespectful, bullying, and intimidating.

Degrees of behaving badly range from verbal rudeness to physical assault, including hitting, pushing, grabbing, and punching.

I have heard people make excuses for bad behavior. I have heard people make excuses for others for their bad behavior. Some of those excuses have been having a bad day, being tired, being overworked, being in a bad mood, not feeling well, or being angry, none of those are legitimate excuses that forgive or excuse bad behaviors. I am sorry if things are not going the way you want. Get over it. You do not have the right to be rude, disrespectful, and intimidating to other people.

I am sorry if you are not getting enough sleep but that does not give you the right to be rude, disrespectful, and intimidating to other people. Too bad you are being overworked. Get another job, and cut back on your hours. It does not give you an excuse. It does not give you license to be rude, disrespectful, and intimidating to others. You are in a bad mood. Get over yourself. It does not give you license to be rude, disrespectful, and intimidating to others, grow up.

Learn how to handle your life and how to handle yourself. In America, people have the right to disagree with you, they have a right to not want to do what you want them to do, and they have a right to want to remove themselves from your presence. They have a right to not want you in their space, especially in their personal space.

You, however, do not have the right to be rude, disrespectful, and intimidating to others. Not because you are having a bad day. Not because you are tired. Not because you are overworked. Not because you are in a bad mood. Not because you are angry. Now if the bad-behaving individual is dealing with individuals who are somehow jeopardizing their safety, and their life, and they need to defend themselves and all of the rudeness, disrespect, and intimidation is self-defense, that is different.

But if all of this is coming out and being done to people because of how you are feeling, or the mood you are in, I do not even think the loss of someone in your family justifies a person being rude, disrespectful, and intimidating to others.

We have to get to a place where we can control ourselves and where we do not take out on others our negative experiences. Other people in the world do not have anything to do with you having a bad day or being tired or you being overworked or you being in a bad mood or being angry and they should not have to suffer negative consequences because you are in those particular states.

I know that victims are always told. Do not worry, they will get theirs, karma is real, and what goes around comes around. Or they will tell victims, do not worry, there is divine retribution or they are told to turn the other cheek or to be the better person. While they are told to take the high road and be the better person, the person exhibiting the bad behavior, for the moment, goes unscathed to go on and continue the bad behavior and to subject other people to their bad behavior.

I think when you talk to victims, the average victim thinks that karma and divine retribution take a little too long to occur to have an impact on the person exhibiting the bad behavior. That being the case, my suggestion is that you can take the high road, you can turn the other cheek but if you care about other people, someone has to be told about the individual exhibiting the bad behavior.

The hope, the expectation is that you may keep someone else from having the experience of that person’s rudeness, disrespect, or intimidation. Most agencies have something in place where an anonymous report can be made that will be collected and when they get a certain number of complaints, they investigate. But if no one ever says anything, there is nothing to collect and they will not have enough data. They can talk to the person, saying that they see a pattern of behavior here. Ask them: wouldn’t you like this to be different?

Hopefully, the person is the kind of person who does not enjoy having these kinds of experiences with people and who would like to be a better person who will say, “Yes, okay, maybe I need some anger management classes or something.”

Social media is not helpful because it seems that people are so abusive on social media that getting help or getting a resolution to a problem is unlikely to happen. I do not suggest people post on the Internet. I have never seen a healthy resolution through the use of the internet.

We would like to think that we could talk to the individual ourselves. But if they are so inept at controlling their temper that the incident you experienced happened at all, what is to say, they will be any better at having a calm conversation about the incident and coming to a peaceful resolution?

If there is a pattern of bad behavior, that only complicates matters. Discussing possible negative results or consequences of their behaviors sometimes is useless because they usually get so angry that they do not care about the consequences.

Then there is the situation that I personally just one time experienced and have heard of happening to other people where after someone exhibits bad behavior not only rude and disrespectful but physical, they then go away, calm down, come back and instead of saying I am so sorry I did thus and such and it will never happen again, they come back saying things like, are you going to accept my apology?… Are you going to at least accept my apology?…, and again, in the person’s face, the victim’s face, demanding an acceptance of an apology, when first of all, there was no apology, just the demanding of an acceptance of a non-apology which makes no sense.

And again, they are still exhibiting the same rude, disrespectful, and intimidating behavior but they are putting it on you, that in order for all of this to be resolved, you have to do something. You must accept some kind of ambiguous apology, which really adds salt to the wound. Not only has the person been rudely spoken to, disrespected, and experienced intimidating behavior, and possibly physical grabbing or whatever, not only has the person had but now everything is being turned around on them, where it is now their responsibility to resolve the issue by accepting this person’s non-apology.

They have not said “I am sorry” I did this, whatever it was, and it will never happen again. They have not even given a formal apology but they have the nerve, the audacity, to demand the acceptance of a non-apology. It is very interesting.

If it is a situation from which you can remove yourself permanently, do so. If it is an optional situation where you do not have to be there but you are providing a service by being there and it is something that means a lot to you, then you have to give the other individual a wide berth. You are going to have to try to function within the framework of the activity in such a way that you have very little contact, if any, with the individual.

If you can find some way to let someone know something, do so. If it is a family member, that is a little more challenging because you may love this particular individual. If it is an individual you do not have to see a lot, limit how often you see them. When you see them, if they start to exhibit bad behavior, you can leave and go home.

You do not have to stay in their presence. This is, of course, if they are at least not trying to inhibit your removal of yourself from the situation. I do know of situations where individuals have wanted to take the high road, more or less, and just remove themselves from the situation and the bad-behaving individual had the audacity to grab the individual to prevent them from removing themselves from the situation.

So again, hopefully, you will always be able to remove yourself. The circumstance may be such that you do not want to cause a scene in a way that detracts from your role within the framework of the activity. So you may not be able to just walk away or snatch your arm away from the bad-behaving individual.

Only you can determine the range of responses at your disposal at a given time. Only you can protect yourself, not bystanders, not law enforcement, not restraining orders, not friends, and not even family. Because in the moment, you are usually there by yourself and you have to have a plan for your own protection. Thank goodness, most of these incidents are not physical. So you have to develop a plan for how you will react or behave within a variety of circumstances.

Those of us, who go through life as peaceful, trusting, understanding, compassionate, friendly people, tend to be caught off guard by the bad behavior of others. Bad-behaving individuals count on catching people off guard. So if you have a plan in place, even if you have to practice in front of a mirror, you may not be caught off guard to such an extent that you will not have a good response.

And like I said earlier, if the circumstance is one where you do not want to stoop to their level, you will have to find a way to deal with it outside of the circumstance in a different way, and at a different time. The main thing is for you not to be afraid, for you not to feel it is your fault, and for you to feel good about yourself, and realize it is their problem and their bad behavior. What inspires their bad behavior is their problem.

Parthenia Izzard Psychologist, CNHP, ABD, Author, Talk Show Host

Her desire is to provide services and disseminate information related to alternative medicine therapies to facilitate your wellness journey.