Tuesday, June 21, 2011

To Be or Not To Be... Offended.

I offended someone. Big surprise. Probably not the first time, and I am almost certain it won't be the last.

I don't say that to be mean. I say it because it was bound to happen. Sooner or later we [probably] all say things that may offend someone else, even if it wasn't our intention.

That's the case here. It was not my intent to offend. I didn't even know the other person was having a bad day. He was laughing and joking with the rest of us in the group.

FAAACTUH: I poke fun at myself, I kid around with others and sometimes I am a bit sarcastic. But my sarcasm isn't to be mean. And normally, I do it in an obvious way (or what I perceive as obvious) so that they know I am only kidding. Like I said, though. I can also take it. I figure if I dish it out, I HAVE to be willing to take it.

For example, typically when someone teases me, I usually reply with, "As if that's my only problem." I wasn't always so laid back. But I suppose I finally came to a realization that it is not worth it to get upset or easily offended over the little stuff. Besides, I learned life is a lot more funnier if I can laugh at myself. Not to say I never allow my feelings to get hurt. Because on occasion I have and on occasion I do; mostly when I am tired.

As far as joking around goes, I am a big proponent of knowing your audience. For example, I probably wouldn't be sarcastic during a job interview or a funeral or someplace where it would be inappropriate. And typically I only venture into that side of humor when I really know the person well. However, my [often mis-interpreted] humor can sometimes manifest itself if I am feeling anxious around certain people, especially if I feel like I do not fit in. It can also kick in as my way of dealing with someone who completely irritates me.

Anyway -- back to the incident. He was laughing and joking in the group and he made some funny comments, one after the other actually, that really set up some nice comebacks for the rest of us. I thought we were all engaging in banter. There wasn't anything in his demeanor that led me to believe he was feeling anything but enjoyment.

Then -- 2 nights later -- in a text he tells me that *I* made him "sad". That he was feeling like the group was "kicking him while he was down." Immediately I said sorry. I told him that I was sorry we offended him and that if we would have known how he felt, we would have left him out of the joking around bits. I thought that would be the end of it. But no.

He proceeded to go on and on about it. It got to the point wherein I felt like he was trying to make me feel guilty about the entire ordeal.

I finally explained that sometimes I use humor and sarcasm in a new setting when I am anxious or when I am with really good friends because we know each other well enough to take it. I wasn't trying to make an excuse, only explaining the situation. I couldn't figure out why he couldn't let it go after I had already apologized. I think by this point I had texted "I'm sorry" at least 2 more times, so a total of 3!

His response to my explanation was more or less a line of questioning regarding my relationship with God. He basically said I should be praying a minimum of 2 times per day and reading my scriptures daily and that God could help me overcome such unhealthy habits.


Yep. You read that right. Am I wrong to think he was trying to manipulate me into feeling like a bad person because I UNINTENTIONALLY offended him?!?!?! Good grief! Oh and FYI -- personality traits are not the same as bad habits.

Like, how in the world would he even know how often I prayed or studied?!?!?! I wanted to bob my head and retort, "You don't know me!"

Instead, I politely but firmly replied that while my level of faithfulness is not his business I value my relationship with God and feel that I am in a good place, doing the best I can in this moment of my life, especially with everything I've got going on. I further explained that I will not allow the power of my happiness to be given over to anyone, and that I have finally come to a point in my life wherein I love me!

Yep. Ain't no shame. I love the person I have become!

Not to say I never make a mistake and I have things I am always trying to improve upon. I believe we can always be learning something. But using humor as a way to cope with life is how I do. It is a part of me. I come from a long line of story-tellers and funny people. It's in my genes. Not.Even.Kidding. Not that I am always funny either. Just saying... it's who I am and I LIKE it.

So, NEWS FLASH: I will NOT apologize for being me.

I did offer this as a solution: "I think it would be best in the future if you speak up and tell us if something is bothering you and I will know from now on that you are sensitive to sarcasm and I will refrain from using it. I think this is the only way we can successfully be friends."

His response was that he was "ditching" me as a friend but that he just wanted to give me feedback on my friendship abilities first, "just like a teacher would critique you on your writing," he wrote.

WHAT.EVER. Dude... seriously? Let me fill you in on a little secret. I WANT feedback from my teacher. In fact I PAY for it -- with Tuition. It's my way of ASKING for it. I don't recall ASKING you for Friendship feedback. Plus -- have you seen my FB friend list? Not exactly a shortage in the friend department. Not bragging. Just sayin'...

Oh - and one more thing... He was so bent on trying to "punish me" and make me feel guilty, that he couldn't even see how his accusations about me and my religious faithfulness might be offensive.

I think about all of the times I have been offended in my life. Most of the time I never even bring it up to the other person, because after I take some time to cool down I ask myself what their intentions were. And more often than not, I come away believing that people do not intend to offend.

People are just people. We all have different personalities. Some appreciate sarcasm while others do not. Some want to coddle and be coddled while others (ME) find it smothering. Some like to be blunt and to the point while others find that too harsh and mean. We have different personalities, ergo the likelihood of any one of us offending someone else exists.

Only once did I feel like someone was just lashing out to be mean and she continued to do it over and over. I finally called her on it. She ended up apologizing, for which I thanked her, and then - here is the key - I let it go!

Bottom line. I believe that if we get offended, it's our choice to take offense. Often times the knee-jerk reaction is not the best path. My knee-jerk reaction would have been to tell this guy that he had some nerve acting all self-righteous and how dare he question something so personal to me and who does he think he is and isn't he just the pot calling the kettle black, after all he just offended me!!! But I didn't say those things. I am no longer irritated and I do not hold grudges.

Truth be told, I think he was feeling like crap cuz things in his life aren't going his way at the moment. I suppose he needed someone to take it out on, someone to blame. Might as well be me, right? I will say this though... I do not like drama. And Man-Drama is even worse. Bleh.

So where does that leave us? To be or not to be offended? The choice is yours.


pinkelephant said...

Like you said, because he was having a bad day, he inhaled all those negativity and exhaled on you. And by having you apologize, he was trying to make himself feel better. In a sense, I believe he thinks highly of you because he would not have tried to have someone he thinks is lower than him apologize to him. That wouldn't make him feel better, don't you think?

Maybe he feels that he is doing everything he is supposed to do so he cannot be wrong. And people always use the excuse for being "offended" for not doing things they were supposed to do. Everyone needs some kind of escape but "offended" is one of the not so good path people choose to take sometimes.

There was a conference talk about offended. http://lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/and-nothing-shall-offend-them?lang=eng&query=offended

I think you probably remember- anyway. Thanks for sharing. I hope you yourself are over it;)

Sweet Sassy Molassy said...

This dude needs to turn in his guy card because this whole thing was so undudelike. Not cool for him to get his panties all in a bunch. And the person who likes to dish it out but can't take any of it is one of my least favorite people in the world. There needs to be a scarlet letter these people can wear in social settings.

Craig said...

First time I've actually read your blog and it's a funny story. I'd like to say that this an example of why my friend list is short, but I think it's more likely that I'm just a jerk, and I keep defriending people.

At my last job a rather senior manager said something that really offended one of my staff, another of my staff was there and could have been equally offended but wasn't. She told me that maybe she should be offended but wasn't and couldn't really explain why. I think the answer is simple the comment was perhaps a bit coarse but was completely without ire.

She had wisely saved herself all the pain and bitterness that accompanies taking offense.

On a final note, I wonder if this guy recognizes the irony of passing judgement on your connection to God. It seems that a true disciple of Christ would be more in tune with his teachings, especially regarding passing judgement and forgiveness.

Puphigirl said...

So, did he call or text anyone else in the group? I'm just curious how many he tried to guilt.

I use sarcasm, and I think the other person can tell when I'm using it. But, I had a coworker that used sarcasm and I could never tell when he was serious or kidding. It got to a point that when he was kidding we thought he was serious, and when he was serious we all thought he was kidding. Later he would complain that he is tired of people not respecting him or taking him seriously.

Deborah said...

I'm glad you have a good attitude about it ... I'd like to think I would have handled the situation like you did ... although I get *really* irritated when I apologize and people just keep on about it, especially if whatever I did was inadvertent and acceptable in the context of the group I was in. You showed him much grace. Too bad he doesn't recognize that.

okeydokeyifine said...

I have had pt's and their families ask me if I am from the mid-west due to my humor. So I guess it is a mid-west thing and mostly mid-westerners "get it". Top it off with a hilariously weird family and there you go: Emma

The Willeyes said...

You have a great attitude about it. Sounds like he's got bigger issues than this!

"You grow up the day you have your first real laugh...at yourself." ~Ethel Barrymore

Laugh it off dude!!

RhondaLue said...

You are so right on, Emma. I can get my feelings hurt, be irritated, mad even...but I let it go rather quickly. I may not want to risk being around those people all the time by choice but I don't hold the grudge. He is holding a grudge. If he wasn't then he'd have let it go after your first, or second (haha), apology. What a tool. lol And really...it's not very manlike to go on and on about it like a blubbering girl. ;)

Alice in Wonderland said...

I would just shake the whole thing off....it's his problem.
I know that we have different ways of saying things here in England, but sarcasm is still the same in any language. I'm pleased that he apologised though. Working with someone who has these issues is uncomfortable for everyone.

Tulsi said...

I don't always believe it is a choice on whether we choose to be offended or not. I know we are told to turn the other cheek, Be nice and let go. While I do not judge the person making comments to me or about me, And I do get my feelings hurt sometimes, when it is intentional, I do think that isn't a choice. If someone in the room is talking about how dirty the American Indian's are, I don't take offense because I look Caucasian. Someone in the group always tells me not to take offense, which takes care of itself. And my girls like knowing they are actually princesses. Just many times down the line. But if someone looks me in the eye or knows I am in earshot of an uncalled for comment, It's not my choice to make really. I do not hold grudges. I still set in the same room with them. Sometimes I am paired up with them. As some others have said, I think it is a lack of confidence. When someone is being mean, I don't often let it stick. I simply have much more to do. Recently someone said something about 40 being old. He was talking about his older brother and was kind of teasing his brother who wasn't there. I told him that 40's was the best. you knew who you were and were to old for all of the drama. He back peddled and said the 40's were the new 30's. I said no. 40's were 40's. He thought he had offended me unintentionally. I had a teasing feeling so we bantered back and forth. Now when I'm in a room full of church ladies and they complain about my age, it tends to get my dander up. Even when they don't know how old I am. We have a median age of 28 as the bulk of our ward. I have to remember that they will grow up one day and be my age, too. It rarely happens any more as I choose to keep to myself. I know most people say it is a choice whether we feel offended or not. I just don't believe it with repeat offenders. And I never apologize for my age. And I am rather sarcastic, too.

Susie said...

That is all him...not you! I would have said, "Too bad you didn't have the strength in character to speak up for yourself when you felt attack. Maybe You should pray on that!"