Learning badass

I’m training myself in my mind to deal with controversy and not run from it. What the hell, it’s taken me this long hasn’t it? I’ve had issues with self esteem – many of us have, and I have also felt fear from hurt like most others. Put these two together and I’m convinced we all find it difficult to not back down from a challenge, but how many of us actually practice it? I’m not really talking about the incorrect change at the store, a nickel or two – many of us don’t count it out anyway because it’s done for us but do we really know for sure or is someone skimming us when we spend $1.13?

I said all of us back down from a challenge but I’m not being truthful. I didn’t want to be challenged on the numbers, nor did I want to mention those enviable souls who can get what they want and not have to scream and shout for it either. Is it charisma in the negative if there is such a thing? Is there some hidden secret to looking at your own advantage in a situation so that there is a win for me at least and not a loose? Lots of questions need answers. I’ve even thought about consulting a therapist on this for their expertise but I don’t happen to have one on standby at the moment – maybe later. I’ll have to wait for now.

But we all – here I go with the assumptions which I think is part of the problem – know someone that can be belligerent and still are tactful. It appears they have the right thing to say. It appears they have backbone. Somewhere along the path they have committed to getting what they want out of human interaction and have the confidence and all the right moves to back it up. If we all know how to fail, why do we not know how to succeed in adversity?

So I want to try this – I want to stand in front of the cashier and count out my change. I want to ask someone for something for free – “throw in that bag of peanuts will you?” if I spend a lot on snacks at a movie. Come on, there must be some wiggle room. What kind of body language will I need? Should I shrug while I ask, should I fold or cross my arms or should I find something neutral? I suspect neutral is best.

Oh my god, this is going to be more difficult than I expected. My worst will be language. I’ll get a lump in my throat right at the wrong time or a stutter. “Can you throw in a murrmurrmurr as well please mister,” as my voice trail off realizing that I swallowed the words half way through.

Get out the books! The “Messages and the Communications Skills Book” I just happen to have tucked away for these special occasions suggest that everyone negotiates (with identifiable steps) and more particularly, you have to be prepared for conflict. “You can steer between these two extremes [hard headed and soft boiled – you get the pictures] by taking the principled approach…” That’s what I’ve been looking for, something that depersonalizes the negotiation and instead uses and accepts reason.

What about my example of the peanuts? Well, we also call these people assholes and no it didn’t say it in the book. It’s called taking advantage of someone else and their weakness. Do we really want to emulate this kind of behavior (notice I subtly changed to the ubiquitous ‘we’ in order to depersonalize and avoid conflict with you.)

Ok. I have to keep reading if I want to master this or at least figure it out. Hands up if you’d rather see me try the badass route or something morally acceptable? Let’s see those hands again? Maybe I’ll try them both and see which one feels better – it’s not so much about getting my hands on more snacks I guess.


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