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Toughen Up! October 5, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Mindfulness, People.

220px-Alice_par_John_Tenniel_27Someone got annoyed at me for “no reason” this week. It’s not the first time it’s happened.  It won’t be the last.

I made a general statement,  a generic observation, an impersonal comment, a joke about the “Paris Hiltons” of the world.

Instead of laughing at my joke, or ignoring it, they CHOSE to take the generic comment personally . . . as an attack on them.

“Are you calling me a . . . ? 
Are you suggesting that I’m a . . . ?”

Nope.  Not even close.

I tried to explain what I had meant, to no avail.
The affronted individual  CHOSE not to believe me.

I tried again.  No luck.

Mad-Hatter-pacingInstead of shrugging off my remark, this “sensitive” person retaliated with (you guessed it) a direct personal assault . . . claiming  that everyone knows that I am insensitive to the feelings of others.

Perhaps I am.  Too bad.  Toughen up.

Every time we open our mouths to say something, we run the risk that someone we aren’t even talking about will CHOOSE to mis-interpret our comments by viewing our words as a direct personal attack on them.

Does that make their hurt feelings our fault?

Should we keep our mouths clamped shut to avoid hurting the feelings of overly sensitive paranoid narcissists who view everything as relating to and revolving around them?

Are they (and their thin-skins) our responsibility?


Aah . . . that’s better!

Quote to live by:  Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~ Dr. Seuss

Related post:  This, That, & The Other Thing * Political Correctness (WP Daily Prompt)


1. Richard W Scott - October 5, 2010

I can’t find fault with this, no ma’am.

By the same token, I find that I almost always know when I’m going to offend someone when I put out something controversial. The amazing thing is how wrong I can be about which of the regular readers will be upset. I’m often wrong. And I think I know the reason why.

I think the reason we offend is because blogging is like email. Unless we take extreme care with our writing, we often fail to deliver our full intention. …and by intention I mean full emotional meaning.

I sometimes think I should include “smilies” in my blog posts just so people get the hint when I am being sarcastic, witty, loving, protective… and the list goes on and on. I’ve decided not to do that, however. I would like to find it in me to be as exacting and emotionally verbose as I can be with straight prose.

So far, I think, it’s about 50 – 50.

nrhatch - October 5, 2010

Thanks for a wonderful comment.

Some people are quick to take offense . . . they seem to grab on to every opportunity.

When given the choice between laughing, and being offended, I always choose laughter.

After all, what they think of me is none of my business. 😉

2. Barbara Gunn - October 5, 2010

The fun of writing a blog is it is a stage to freely express yourself. My daughter (31) recently took offense to something I wrote and has chosen to refuse to speak to me. At first I felt responsible. Then I realized it is her problem not mine. She is the one who chose to be offended.

nrhatch - October 5, 2010

I agree with you. Some people use the tactic of being “quick to take offense” as a means to manipulate the behavior of others.

They want US to do what they want US to do.

Others just worry to much about what other people think . . . instead of minding their own store.

Richard W Scott - October 5, 2010

Oooh. Now, that’s interesting. Taking offense as a means manipulating others. Talk about hidden agendas!

nrhatch - October 5, 2010

Manipulation is a huge part of the equation:

If we are AFRAID of incurring their wrath, then we behave as they want us to.

If we feel GUILTY for upsetting their apple cart (even accidentally), maybe we’ll tiptoe around them in the future.

Richard W Scott - October 5, 2010

Good point, Barbara.

One day I’d like to write a treatise about being offended, and what the feeling of offence is all about.

The other day I was brushing my cat and accidently hit him in the nose with the brush. A person might be very much offended by such an off-hand occurance, might hold a grudge, might even strike back. What my cat did was to roll over so I could brush his tummy. He didn’t take it personally. He had another agenda.

Smart cat I’ve got.

nrhatch - October 5, 2010

I’d like to read it!

And your cat is smart . . . roll over and enjoy the moment.

poeticinteraction - October 6, 2010

I think that someone can take a comment personally, without taking it offensively. It just means that it applies to them. The emotions are something else, and also the ambiguity within words, which I wish to explore in comments on the life-story, in my poeticinteraction. If we learned to view such innuendo, etc. (as long as they are not grounded in the manipulative strategies that come with a quest for superiority of power or money control) as poetry and not fact, or at least be able to clarify the possible intentions, we might all develop greater a awareness of word usage and make clearer distinctions between ‘fact!’ and what causes the ‘hurt’ feelings. The individual could look at their own ‘life world’ and understand what in their personal and historical context makes them so susceptible to a particular comment. Respect for self and others, however, and for the diversity within language, would help alleviate the ‘problem’, I feel, but this is too general a statement to meet all particular instances of the phenomena.

nrhatch - October 6, 2010

You’re right.

If someone says that Americans are fat and getting fatter . . . I could take that as a personal challenge without being offended by the statement.

But as an idiomatic statement, “taking something personally” usually goes hand in hand with being offended by it.

poeticinteraction - October 6, 2010

Thanks nr. May I clarify further. Words themselves may be taken impersonally, as words only, within an argument or description, for instance. I look forward to the day when we have such ‘objectivity’ with respect to language, that we can make it our choice whether to involve ourselves with the ‘personal meaning’ and/or ‘social significance’. As you know, with direct statements, such ‘detachment’ is not always possible without being considered rude. “Words can’t always be ‘just’ words”. But each person can also bring their individual ‘connotation’ to the word, and even the denotation can change according to context, social status, and all the rest of it. Sometimes I wonder how we communicate at all, and indeed I once read the thesis that we really do all live in a solipsist universe, each of us within our own particular language world. “Nice ‘talking to you’, grin grin.”

nrhatch - October 6, 2010

It is relatively simple to view words with detachment . . . but it takes practice, practice, practice.

We are pre-wired and socialized to judge rather than observe.

When we train ourselves to stand back and watch with detached “amusement,” we see our own thoughts (and the thoughts, words, and hurled accusations of others) as nothing to get worked up about.

3. Julie - October 5, 2010

One of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes – and so apt!

nrhatch - October 5, 2010

Thanks, Julie

I’m not a fan of going out of my way to hurt other people’s feelings . . . but sometimes, when toes are “sticking out too far,” they’re going to get stepped on. 😉

4. Paula Tohline Calhoun - October 5, 2010

Being misunderstood is a very difficult thing to live with – especially if you have a hard time letting those kinds of things go. I wrote a post on being misunderstood entitled – you guessed it! –
“Being Misunderstood.” Here it is.


Your comments are very valid,as is the post. All the above comments are excellent and to the point. The only thing that I have to remind myself of when in such a situation is that even though that person might be trying to manipulate the hell out of me, I have to remember that they often are not aware that is what they are doing!. So few people have any idea as to how their own minds work, and why they feel and react they ways they do. I end up forgiving and mostly just plain forgetting (easy for me)because hanging on isn’t worth the effort; however, there will always be a part of me that wishes I could have made myself better understood! (I end up giving in and using “smilies” Ric!) But you are right – sometimes it has nothing to do with the person misunderstood, but all with the misunderstander!

Great post once again, Nancy, and thanks!

nrhatch - October 5, 2010

Excellent comment.

I didn’t write this post because I’m angry (or even annoyed) at being misunderstood. How other people CHOOSE to view my words is their business. I know that I meant no offense.

I wrote this because so many people are quick to take offense (when other options are available) without seeing it as a CHOICE they are making.

Life is easier when we let things roll off our backs, or when we emulate Rik’s cat!

5. Paula Tohline Calhoun - October 5, 2010

Yup! Besides, my dog never takes offense – even when I do get mad! So I must not be all that offensive, I guess! 😀

nrhatch - October 5, 2010

You don’t offend me! 🙂

6. souldipper - October 5, 2010

Geez, Nance, I leave you alone for a day and look what happens! Who knew Paris had such power?

I’ve found that if it seems someone may be taking a poke at me, I investigate it prior to becoming contemptuous. Or hurling accusation. Pays off ALL the time. I’m not going to admit how often I have my glasses on backwards. Narcissistic? Self Centered? Overly sensitive? I don’t know. But I sure know to check it out before jumping on someone’s case.

I know you check things out, Nancy, because I had the very positive experience with you over something I said. I would be very sad indeed if you had not asked me and if it had meant I lost this ‘contact’ with you. Gawd…dare I say “friendship”?! 🙂

nrhatch - October 5, 2010

It’s funny, I probably miss more pokes than I catch. They probably fly right over my head because I’m not looking for opportunities to be offended.

If I’m confused about intent, I inquire.

You and Me? Friendship? I’d say so! 🙂

7. MARLENE LA MURA - October 5, 2010


nrhatch - October 5, 2010

You may! 8)

8. MARLENE LA MURA - October 5, 2010


nrhatch - October 5, 2010

You spelled it right, according to my M-W Dictionary.

9. cindy - October 6, 2010

Ho hum … the written word often misses the subtlety that goes with the spoken word. As Rik says above. Paris is an airhead, I can’t think that she would provoke any emotion other than mirth?

nrhatch - October 6, 2010


10. Mstrongair - October 6, 2010

Wonderful post Nancy and with great comments too.
That treatise sounds very interesting.

nrhatch - October 6, 2010

I love Rik’s idea . . . an in-depth evaluaton of why some people rush to take offense while others shrug it off.

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