You don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to- Just win the ones that you do attend

You don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to- Just win the ones that you do attend


These past few weeks, I came to fully understand the value of knowing that “You don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to.”   I offer this post as a way of passing on what I learned.


By remembering such sage advice (which was actually part of a twitter war between Senator Cory Booker and the twitterverse.) I saved myself from having to experience anger and ridiculousness.   Let me tell you it was not easy refraining from getting into the thick of things. However, we would all be wise to not enter every argument we are invited to. Many of these arguments are just not our fights to fight. Step back and let the crazy-angry people duke it out amongst themselves.


These past few weeks, I was continuously surrounded by a group of individuals (who were ostensibly working together as a part of team for a larger world health goal) who kept sniping at one another. Whoa. I think at some point I saw one of them breathing out fire in the midst of their temper tantrum; while another’s head kept turning like a bobble doll.   These were individuals who had practically lost all control over their bodies because they were so bent on hosting an argument.


Some people say that the holiday season brings out such crazy meanness in people due to the fact that holidays can be very stressful. Finding or creating the right gift can push some people over the edge. Have you ever seen the movie Bad Santa? I had that image all week long which was a good thing as it helped me chuckle inappropriately at these tense meetings.   Even though I was not going to let them draw me into a fight, why not let them think I am crazy? At one point I was tempted to quote Bad Santa and tell them “Your soul is dog shit. Every single thing about you is ugly.” But what would have been the point?


Who has time for all that sniping? I surely do not.   This group of individuals tried mightily to goad me into joining the fight. I was copied on over 100 emails where accusations were flying and tempers were most obviously flaring. One person in particular asked if they could talk strategy with me on how to handle one particularly disgruntled individual that had originally been on her side of the argument. Huh? Too much craziness.


These days a lot of workplace interactions center around creating alliances and “end-game” strategy. Reality television shows such as Survivor have become the gold standard for workplace interactions. These shows are now more real than the reality they originally started off portraying. Individuals in the workplace appear to be taking their social interaction cues from shows whose main intention is to create drama to line the producers’ pockets.   Why are individuals in the supposed real world trying to emulate such tactics? Why must the modern-day workplace be the equivalent of the Roman Coliseum fights?


My response this week to all this overly loud drama has been dead silence. I did not answer a single one of those crazy emails. I did not speak on any of the crazy teleconferences that took place to address the crazy emails.   I paid no heed to the smoke signals or carrier pigeons. I refused to get drawn in.


I like a good party just like the next person. However, a pity, pissing and pouty party is not one that I need to attend. Let me tell you something. When you refuse to attend the party tempers flare even more on the other side. These angry individuals want to vent, rage and tear down the lively spirits that others around them may have. When you refuse to get involved how will their vent be heard?


Now, let me end my rant by saying that if you do attend the argument, bring it. You must bring your “A” game. For you will have to win it. Pick your parties wisely and you will come to be known as someone they can’t mess with too lightly. Eventually, your mere presence will serve to dampen any possibility of an exhausting argument party taking place.


This week I was sane, measured and on point. I was also passionate and empowered.   And unscathed. That is how you can outwit, outplay and outlast the workplace crazies.


 hippo_cielo_may 2013


11 replies »

  1. lol Love the picture at the end :D. Wrapped the story up with a good smile. My husband is great about picking his battles and winning them. Me, not so much. Although I have learned to just be honest with myself from the beginning and not try to argue it.


  2. Well done for keeping out of the mosh pit. Somehow maintaining your integrity and being able to live with yourself and your actions is what;s ultimately important and not letting those values get wiped out by some kind of office hysteria.
    I wasn’t happy with how the school handled some issues with my daughter and I wrote a lengthy and detailed email to the Principal but I’m very active at the school and had the underlying relationship I hope to work through it. I was pretty upset at the time but waited a day to respond. Cooled off.
    I don’t react to things at the school very often and have smoothed things over with parents in the past so that helps when I have my own concerns.
    The politics of the workplace is another beast entirely. Have been having an extended break on that front.
    Happy New Year xx Rowena


    • Omg. I had quite an experience this summer with a fellow parent. And i really tried to be reasonable. Ugh. I agree that we need to self impose an email cooling down period. If you have tips for handling school politics ill take them :-).


      • What has worked best for me as a parent has been to volunteer at the school so I could see what other kids were doing and gauge how our kids were going. When my kids were in infants, I helped out with the reading in the classroom and that build connections with the teacher and the other kids and I could approach the teacher in a more casual way without it being confronting. Where you have trouble is when the student’s behavior is different at school and home and so the teacher and the parent have quite different views of the child which could both be valid but it really can strain relationships.
        It’s important to acknowledge and validate the other person’s viewpoint. They see what they see and then try to nut out how you can work together…brain storm perhaps.
        However, parents can get very fired up about their offspring so not taking that to heart would be my first advice.
        Using active listening techniques. Repeating back what they say and clarifying and checking back with them that you are understanding them correctly. People need to know that they’ve been heard.Understood.
        I don’t have any experience on the teaching front so I hope that helps xx Rowena


  3. Wow ! I so liked the title of the post…like I need to put it up on my wall and see it everyday. I need it. Needed to read the post in fact. I rather tend to give in to all the silly invites.
    Your post is thought provoking. To come to think of it, many a times arguements can actually be won by keeping silent. I lack that compousure sometimes…


  4. Arguments like the ones you describe have nothing to do with people trying to get the other side to see or agree with their point of view. It has everything to do with trying to make the other side look foolish. People do this because they feel shame and they want to make other people feel ashamed of themselves because that makes their own experience of shame momentarily lessen. Usually people are completely unaware of this dynamic. But with awareness comes the realization that shame is an outside entity separate from the people it infects. It spreads like a virus in the very manner you describe in your blog post.


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