Every one of us, at one time or another, has been harangued in a horrible fashion. Ranting and raging by an adult or significant other may seem like a burden to bear, but mean words and shouts are painful and may have long-term, negative results. Plus how effective is sermonizing and criticizing? It rarely changes a behavior since as the yelling overpowers us, we are deflated and defeated with little redemption possible and both ears turned onto to self-preservation mode.
Some of my readers will respond, "But I fight back! No one attacks me without having a price to pay!" While I might temporarily admire your ability to stand up and be heard, in the long run a return harangue infrequently produces positive change or better understanding. Instead it seems to create unbridgeable gaps and lingering anger and hurt feelings, although sometimes the target is strengthened with a resolve to near behave in a similar manner.
I remember in college I was riding an escalator with a friend when a man passing by us as he headed to a lower floor. Suddenly he started screaming at me. I guess our laughter, mine in particular it seems, had sent him over the edge. I tried to look him in the eye and smile but this enraged him to an even greater extent. I glanced down and then back up but his screeching only intensified. Silence did not work nor did my apologetic shoulder shrug. My only escape was the top of the stairs as I hoped he would not loop around and follow me around the store for another attack.
Another time I came to the defense of my daughter when I confronted her bully of a teacher. As a teacher myself I feel for teachers and the tough role they must play, but there are some who are downright cruel. Their greatest pleasure is drawn from humiliating and berating students. My daughter is quiet and polite, respectful and obedient. I do not say this simply as her mother but because I think most people would agree with my description. This teacher had demeaned her with false accusations, ridiculed her friends, and then dashed them all with low grades. I simply needed to know the problem and if it included my daughter's behavior, my husband and I would attend to that.
As I entered the room for our appointment, the bully rose like a monster and spewing nasty accusations. She stomped and screamed and moved to leer over us, hoping we would cringe. As I pulled myself tall I then asked for particulars and for assignments and behaviors in questions. Her rage increased. My only recourse after five minutes of trying to communicate was to hug my daughter and leave. Even when I reported this incident, the administration backed this viciousness woman and provided our only recourse: to wait for the semester to end and get a transfer to another class or to move to another town.
This haranguing caused extensive damage at the moment, but my daughter's resilience pulled her through and now we can laugh at this reign of terror as we weep for other children who must face this fiend. Instead of shrieks of return wrath when assaulted I attempt conversation and compromise. While these are my heartfelt recommendations I also realize that when another person is on a rampage, kindness and consideration rarely produced positive results. Now I just turn and walk away.
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