I hate that moment when you’re really upset with what someone else did, but your first instinct isn’t to simply tell them. Because this time it feels different. This time you feel upset that they don’t know already.
It’s something so obvious to you that you feel like you shouldn’t have to raise the issue. Because you can’t believe they don’t realize how disrespectful what they’re doing is. And if you have to tell them, do they really have the same values as you?
And if you don’t have the same values, is it worth trying to work through whatever it is?
Use your words, a voice within you says. And you want to smack that voice in its smug sanctimonious disembodied little face.
Because you’re so done with the situation. Even though it’s just started.
And at that moment, while you’re still irritated by that little voice that reminds you to use your words, that it’s always better to make yourself clear and to tell them, you don’t know what you want to do.
Because another part of you wants to forgive the slight. It asks you: Is it really that big of a deal? They do so many good things for you, after all. And while it’s obvious to you in the current situation that what they’re doing feels disrespectful, perhaps there have been other times when you’ve been on the other side of the equation. Times when YOU were the one doing something thoughtless. And you would have wanted grace then.
Tell them, the smug little voice says, you’d want to know if you were hurting someone you loved or making them feel disrespected. So you could do something about it. Apologize. Do better. Make sure it doesn’t happen again.
So you do. But you decide to tell them gently. In a way that isn’t mean or insulting or rude — even if that’s how their actions felt to you when they did what they did.
You’re going to be different. You’ll be gentle. Patient. Non-blaming.
And so you sit down and think about how you want to say it. How to tell the truth but not make them instantly defensive. It’s almost like working out a math problem. And not easy math either — that spooky math where no answer is truly right but instead trends asymptotically, a set of solutions that are progressively less wrong without ever quite getting there.