A Lightning Bolt is Going to Strike Me

I have a confession to make: I have a really hard time being civil to people I seriously dislike.

To be clear, I get along well with most people. In fact, I'd say that 99% of the time, I'm cool with everybody. Even people that are a little irritating for one reason or another honestly don't bother me that much. Everyone has their little personality quirks and I'm sure there are plenty of things I do that are annoying to others. So, I work really hard to see the good in all people. Even if someone has ten bad qualities I try to find one good one to focus on. And I'd hope someone would extend the same to me.

When I don't like someone, it's for a real reason. Not because they looked at me wrong or something trifling like that. Nope, if I don't like someone it's usually because:

1) The person lies excessively, is immature and back stabbing.
2) The person is incredibly condescending and lets everyone else know how superior they are because of where they went to school or how many degree letters are behind their name.
3) The person has hurt or insulted someone else that I truly value.
4) The person is racist, sexist, etc.

A couple of hours ago I ran into someone that absolutely 100% CANNOT STAND and they pretty much have the above four attributes down pat. What normally happens in situations like this is that everyone plays nice, lies and is all, "How are you doing? Good to see you?" and all that nonsense.

Well, I seriously did not feel like playing nice. I did not feel like being socially correct. I did not feel like answering the phony, "So, what are you up to these days?"questions. I worried that if this person asked about my children I might slap them or throw up. Or both. I worried that if opened my mouth, I'd be inclined to just say, "Get the f*$% away from me."

It's a real test for me that I feel that way. Normally I just play the game, suck it up and smile. But not tonight. I saw this person walking toward me and tonight I just could not do it. So, I gave them the historical "cut direct". I gave my absolute most unfriendly look to the person and then turned away.

I know. The lightning bolt is coming through the window as I type. My spiritual progress meter just took a dip in a southerly direction.

But what would you do? How do you handle situations like this?

Comments

West said…
If I dislike them on the level you describe, I tend to step (with or without the evil glare) so that I don't say something that makes people uncomfortable.
nick said…
I agree, it's very difficult dealing with someone really objectionable, because of all our conditioning to be polite and gracious whatever the circumstances. I've often been nauseatingly polite to people I should have spat on, and hated myself afterwards. But yes, if it's someone I can't stand at any price, I do just cut them dead straightaway. What goes around comes around. If they treat other people so despicably, they don't deserve any better.
Mes Deux Cents said…
Liz,

If someone is racist then that is reason enough for me to avoid contact.

Your first responsibility is to yourself.

So good for you in not playing along and being "nice".
I don't think it's better to be fake either. Maybe this person's behavior will never change because nobody tell's them their behavior is stank. :)
jali said…
Some people are "spirit robbers" and avoiding them should be applauded. Sometimes going along is an endorsment of ugliness so I think you made the better choice.
Nerd Girl said…
Have you been following me to work? There is a doctor here that I cannot stand. I don't talk to him. Period. All of our communication is done via email, and forwarded/copied to his immediate supervisor - which forces him to keep the communication professional. When we're in close physical proximity he looks at me, I look at him and then move on. Faking the funk is not a talent that I've spent a lot of time honing.
Dena said…
i would have walked away too. it's exhausting being "fake" to others.
Anonymous said…
I recently had to be in close proximity to TWO PEOPLE who I absolutely CANNOT STAND. I just dismissed the woman with my famous "get the f&$% away from me" look. But I had to actually speak to the man to get what I needed done. UGH!! My spirit would not let me be all smiley and happy. After business was taken care of,I actually let him know that "I wasn't feelin' him AT ALL" for treating my best friend the way he does. That was the nicest I could be. I really wanted to call him an egomaniacal, punk a%# bi@#*.

Whew... I feel better already.
Mamita Umita said…
I am so guilty of this as you know.
If I do not care for someone I cannot find the strength to be gracious or fake it. I think faking it hurts more then anything else to the other individual. I think its just that there are some people we get a long with and others we don't, we aren't meant to get a long with everyone and there is nothing wrong with that. However, that doesn't mean that we go out of our way to be rude either. Just say hello and move on - no idle chit chat, just get the f**k out of there as quick as you can.
thailandchani said…
I avoid people I truly dislike. There are very few and mostly for the same reasons you mentioned. Lack of integrity or honor bothers me a lot. There just doesn't seem to be any sense in interacting with them at all.
Anonymous said…
Just be natural. If you naturally get a look of dislike, then that's fine. But try not to show any hostility. If they ask, you could say,"Fine" and just walk away. That's fast and simple. I think it is possible to be civil without being gracious or friendly. Just keep it on a cool, professional level. You don't owe that person "niceness". Keep your distance and any interactions brief.
BZ said…
I am not mad at you! I typically have no problem telling people I don't like, that I don't like them. So, they probably wouldn't approach me if they saw me. However, if I can't say it, my facial expressions say it for me. I have a problem - my face won't lie. And, it often gets me in trouble. I will sit and look at you like the f*cking fool you are until you see me and know exactly what it is I'm thinking. :-)
Shai said…
Liz, I have/had co-workers who I felt like not having to say good morning to. I had to interact in important meetings with this one woman who I don't like or trust. She is a backstabber. I mean she was once my supervisor and would not let me take funeral leave for an immediate family member's death because I was a new hire and did not have any time. SMH. Our manager overrode it and I went. SMH. Funny thing she set up our manager and then took her job.
Anonymous said…
I don't have any problem with your approach. Phony civility is worse in my opinion. Why should some loser get to ruin your day?
1969 said…
Why be phony? Life is far too short. Just avoid those foolslike the plague and keep it moving.
Jameil said…
lolol. stepping to the left is probably the best option. i tend to give people very little leeway. i'd rather not make friends with someone who's a bad person so i'm just wary from the jump. i think its necessary. cautious. i can't imagine you being mean to anyone so this is amazing. i think you did the right thing (maybe minus the look).
Ian Lidster said…
Principles before personalities, goes the saying. But sometimes bad personalities supercede principles, and there's nothing wrong with having our own standards of acceptability. Anyway, I don't fit any of your categories, so I think you'd like me.
Liz Dwyer said…
West,
I do think at that moment it was better for me to just walk away. There have been a couple of times I've opened my mouth and said what's on my mind...and although I was telling the truth as far as what I thought, I mostly felt bad afterwards. Well, okay, I didn't feel that bad, but I felt like I should feel bad.

Nick,
For some reason, and I don't know why this is, your comment made me think of something my mother once said. She said that people have this false image of Jesus walking around just telling people it's okay to smack Him in the face, 'cause He'll turn His cheek so they can smack him again, like Jesus was just fine with being treated badly so if Jesus was okay with it, we should be too-- and it's totally not true.

MDC,
Oh yes, totally racist but this person believes themselves to be completely progressive. You know, the first person to say, "I'm not a racist, but..."

NYC/CR,
Well, I definitely know people have kindly pulled this person to the side in the past and it makes not one bit of positive difference. It just makes them behave even worse.

Jali,
"Spirit robbers" is a very apt term...literally sucking any positive energy out any room. Ugh.

Nerd Girl,
Been there done that in a work situation as well. It amazes me how companies keep people who lack any kind of basic social skills around when it's clear that no one wants to work with them.

Dena,
Very exhausting. But then again, two hours later I was still thinking about it so it still used up a chunk of mental energy.

Joy,
Sometimes that real talk is really liberating. A few years ago someone I really disliked shockingly asked if they could take my son somewhere. I'd thought it was obvious that I didn't like her, so I said no. The woman had nerve enough to say, "Why not?" And I just flat out said, "Because I don't like you since you sleep with men in exchange for them paying your rent." You can imagine how the conversation went from there...but it was really freeing to just be able to be so honest.

Mamita,
LOL! You definitely KNOW how bad I am at this. I considered just saying hello and just walking right by, but we were in a Starbucks and I just knew there was no way I was going to stand in line making small talk with this person. So they got the eye and my back.

Chani,
I really get bothered by a lack of integrity. If you know someone doesn't have that there's no telling what they'll do to you or anyone else.

Jstele,
Good points. The thing is when the person saw me, I felt like they were gearing up to totally do the fake small talk thing and I just wasn't trying to do it.

BZ,
I don't have a good "poker" face. I can actually feel my heart start thudding. My eyes narrow and my skin totally flushes.

What kills me is when someone does stuff that is just really gutter and then wants to act like you're the crazy one!!!

Shai,
Someone who didn't want let you take bereavement is really gonna find out how hot hell is. I really think businesses need to train folks on how to deal civilly with each other. There's too many folks getting set up on the job, getting their ideas stolen/other people taking credit for work they didn't do, etc. What do they call it? Workplace bullying.

TK,
Phony civility is probably not truly civility anymore so it must all even out in the end.

1969,
You know, I hadn't seen this person in so long that it was such a jarring reminder of how I never want to put myself in a situation again where I have to interact on a regular basis with someone so poisonous.

Jameil,
I wish I could say I can't imagine me being mean, but it's definitely a side of me that I've had to check over the years. I've definitely improved but I think I could get better.

Ian,
That's such a good saying and it makes me think again that I probably could have handled it better. And no, you don't fit into any of those categories. :)
Anonymous said…
Why would a lightening bolt strike you for going green and moving on to greener pastures and avoiding spreading the toxins from contact with the contaminant?!

If you had endured contact - you would have taken it home or along with you to someone else - toxic people leave traces like a trail of slime - so why step in it and have to carry it further or wash it off - just step off :)
Lydia said…
Liz,
You see, your conscience will keep your spiritual progress meter in check :).

I think it is best to be as civil and honest as possible. I usually end up doing really rude and childish things, like starting to talk in the middle of their sentence, (to someone else) or ignoring them, literally ignoring them until they leave me alone. :)

Egregious people need somebody to say "Get the f@#$ away from me!!
Anonymous said…
If that person is that toxic that spending a second with them is too much, you can just walk away. You don't have to deal with him.
Well, Liz, like you I get along with most people. But the four qualities you mention are all deal breakers for me, too.

I try hard to avoid them, but when I can't I'm sure it's quite clear how I feel about them and if pushed, I am likely to spill all.

So much for spiritual advancement around here, I'm afraid.

Blogging about them helps a little, especially if I can come up with a parody that makes me laugh because it's hard to be angry and laugh at the same time.
Oh me too. I always feel guilty about it - and my husband hates this quality of mine. But I cannot even look at someone I don't like. Especially for the reasons you mention.

(Shaking my head) A lot of times I wish I knew how to fake it. I guess this makes me an honest person.
Liz Dwyer said…
Clarice,
I suppose I always think of things as being spiritual tests for me to either choose to overcome or fail. And I fail miserably quite frequently. After talking to this person in the past, I used to want to go get drunk or something, even though I've never had a drink. It was just really awful.

Janie,
Those are the things I want to do as well, even if I know I shouldn't. Ugh, that pesky conscience!

Jstele,
Good point. It's funny how we teach kids, "You're going to have to grow up and work with someone you absolutely dislike so you might as well learn to get along with everyone now." -- but that's sort of not true. There's a couple of bullies on the playground and I tell my son to avoid them like the plague. So why would I engage with this person who's essentially the adult version of a bully?

Heart,
Oh my goodness, coming up with a parody of talking to that person would be absolutely hilarious, especially since I know exactly what's going to be said. I can even imagine the wack faces the person would make! Hah hah!

Claudia,
I always wish I knew how to fake it as well. I end up wishing I could come up with the perfect thing to say that makes it clear I don't want to engage in a conversation, but that I'm still being civilized. I can never come up with that sort of thing though.
Anonymous said…
"I end up wishing I could come up with the perfect thing to say that makes it clear I don't want to engage in a conversation, but that I'm still being civilized."

You could say,"I don't feel like talking right now" or "I have to go" and then, just leave.
Unknown said…
you did the right thing by not playing the play nice game with someone who you can't stand.

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