You Cannot Bully Me Into Making You A Priority
“Hi sweetheart, how are you? You sure are a hard person to get a hold of, aren’t you?” my distant aunt, who never calls, unless she needs a favour, passively-aggressively stated.
I sighed, sat down and rolled my eyes but tried to keep my tone light, “Well, you know, I have been really busy lately. I’m sorry I have been hard to get a hold of, but I am finishing my Master’s program this month and I really am trying to simply keep my head above — ” Cutting me off quickly, she interrupted, “Its okay, what I need from you will not take up a lot of your time.”
I sighed again, I could hear her munching on something and her television on in the background. I was clearly not even worth her full attention, for this ‘favour’ I was seemingly going to give her, but not this time. I firmly started to state, “I am so sorry Aunty, but the answer is no, I am not in a position to do anything for you until the new year. I am very busy with school and work right — -”
“Oh darling, stop being so dramatic. You would be helping me with this amazing program I am starting, which will revolutionize the educational system,” she continued as she munched away on whatever the hell she was eating.
I rolled my eyes again. I absolutely loathe these types of conversations; where people, who have very little experience, background or understanding of what they want, but still have the audacity to call someone who is an expert or specialist in the area for a ‘favour.’
The favour is usually so convoluted because they have done no research or work themselves and what they are asking you to do is actually a mountain of a job, but they simply do not realize it, due to their limited scope of the subject. It is embarrassing, for them, because they have no idea what they are asking for, but have the confidence of ten people for some odd, deranged reason.
“I don’t know how many ways to tell you this Aunty, but right now I simply can not — ” Interrupted again, and now with my blood boiling, she started speaking over me, for what felt like the umpteenth time, “Oh darling, stop saying the same thing over and over again, and just listen to what I need.”
“No,” I responded back and this time, when she tried to interrupt me, I shouted over her, “I’m done with this conversation and I’m not helping you!” After this, I hung up the phone and my partner came to the room to figure out what the commotion was all about.
When I explained to him what had happened his response to me was, “Why didn’t you just ignore her call or just agree to help her and then avoid her until you are done your program? Why go head-to-head with her? You know how she can be.”
To me, this solution was total bullshit; I am not a fan of lying, leading someone on or making promises that I cannot keep. I also do not appreciate being spoken down to when someone is literally asking me for a favour, regardless of their age or stance.
Sure, I could have taken the passive route, and then had to deal with her harassment and ruthless commentary when I did not deliver her massive ‘favour’ on a silver platter when and how she asked for it. However, I do not have the personality to be spoken down to repeatedly and just ignore it.
Often in life, fully grown adults will try to bully you into doing things for them, utilizing various forms of insulting techniques simply to get their way.
- They will bully you for your well-earned connections, asking you to help their bullshit, lazy adult child get a job interview at the company you work for, which they are clearly underqualified for.
- They will bully you for your time, asking you pop over, with the promise of drinks or dinner, only to utilize all of your time to help them rearrange their furniture, or help them move heavy boxes into their house, like the hired help.
- They will bully you for your skillsets, asking you to do favours, but they are not favours, but rather things you are paid to do in your job each and every day. They expect you to provide services of skill, for free of course, for which you are paid to do, and act as though they are no big deal. When someone asks you to provide them with a service for free, for which you are typically fiscally compensated for, they are doing do so because they do not respect your time and energy or are just plain cheap.
These types of bullies are so difficult to deal with because they have no shame, self-awareness or empathy for other people.
It is hard to navigate clear boundaries with people like this because they will bulldoze over any firm structures you try to put in place. It is also very difficult to manage these types of people because they have no sense of embarrassment. They have no issue asking for or even demanding things that other people would not dare to ask because they know that it would be rude.
The only way I have found to deal with these types of people is to block them out entirely.
Sometimes it is very uncomfortable because you have to see them at work, family events or within your social circle, but hold your ground. Do not sway and let them back in after they have shown ‘good behaviour’ for a short period of time because they will always eventually go back to their old ways. The only way in which I would ever consider allowing a person who is a bully back in my life is if they apologized for their actions, which they never do, so do not hold your breath, waiting for said apology.
It can be awkward in the beginning, keeping your distance from a person like this, and they might even make you feel bad about it, but stand your ground. This Aunt I mentioned at the beginning of this writeup, I see her regularly, but the relationship is no longer the way it was. I rarely answer her calls, nor does she call as much, and when I am around her, I am a very guarded person.
It is the relationship I aspire for? No, not at all.
Do I have my sanity and boundaries back? Yes, absolutely and that is worth its weight in gold.
Life is choppy and messy and the vision we have in our heads of the perfect world, with wonderful relationships, is not what usually ends up unfolding, which is perfectly okay. It can be awkward, uncomfortable and out of your comfort zone, but you need to learn to stand your ground, if you do not want to be walked all over for the rest of your life.