Recently, I had an encounter with a jerk.
I sort of know this guy and he sort of knows me. We’re neither friends nor acquaintances. We’ve just been in the same social circles from time to time.
I hate to call anyone a jerk, but as you well know, there are plenty of jerks out there and this guy – in my book – is one of them. I say this because each time I see this guy, he sort of insults me. Have you ever dealt with anyone like that?
Strangely, I’ve yet to figure out what I might have done to offend this guy because we barely know one another. I saw him in church – of all places – when he made a snide comment. Believe me you, not everyone who attends church is a true Christian.
Believe me, I could write a whole book on that, but I digress.
Anyway, we saw one another, shook hands and he made his snide comment. I hadn’t seen the guy in a couple of years. What he said doesn’t matter, but instantly after he said it, I replied by saying …
“I’m doing great! Good to see you again!” And with that … I walked away.
The encounter maybe lasted about fifteen seconds and ended not a moment too soon. As I politely walked away, I felt pleased with how I handled the situation and I felt myself smiling. I was smiling because I knew that after a period of reflection, I’d be right here with you chatting about this and what I’ve learned.
So … here’s what I’ve learned.
Whenever you’re dealing with someone who most people might call a jerk, it’s almost always best to smile and then …
Leave their presence as quickly as you possibly can. Here’s why …
In this day and age, a lot of people would choose to hang around and give the jerk “a piece of their mind.” They’d rather engage in a passive-aggressive, back-handed compliment, stealth insult-laden scenario.
If you choose to do that, more power to you, but here’s why I personally choose to walk away rather than engage.
First of all, when you engage with a jerk, you’re actually giving them the benefit of your precious time. I don’t care whether it’s fifteen seconds or three hours, that’s time you can’t get back.
Secondly, I truly believe that walking away is the best option because this is the easiest way of preventing that person from having any effect on you. By POLITELY walking away, you keep your own composure while sending a powerful message to the jerk. You’re simply not going to let him or her waste your precious, planet time.
But here’s something else …
In order for someone to AFFECT you, they first have to INFECT you. You simply cannot feel or show the affects of anything in this life – negative or positive - without first being infected.
Lots of people would argue that walking away makes you a chump or a coward, but consider this for a moment …
If you’re in an elevator with someone who is clearly sick and they start coughing, hacking and sneezing, what are you going to do? You might say, “God bless you!” That’s nice … but what you’re really going to do is hightail it out of that elevator as fast as you can.
Why are you going to get out of that elevator? DUH! Because you don’t want to catch whatever it is they’ve got. You don’t want that person to infect you.
The same holds true for a negative person or a jerk. Why hang around and engage with this person who you know is only out to infect you with their nonsense?
Let’s say that you actually engage the jerk into a debate that turns into either an argument or a full-on fist fight that you end up winning. Even if you “win” the fight, you’ve still lost BIG TIME because the jerk totally succeeded in INFECTING YOU.
You are SO INFECTED that it’s laughable at this point. You gave him a piece of your mind alright, but now you’re a carrier of his nonsense. You’re now sick just like he is.
From the jerk’s perspective … MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
What’s more, even if you won the fight, he still has a story to tell and hold against you. He might even press charges. Then, you’re really screwed.
How to deal with a jerk? Walk away … or at least, put up your emotional Bat Deflector Shield. I do this all the time. I never leave home without my emotional Bat Deflector Shield.
I’m thinking again about my own jerk encounter. I hate to keep calling him a jerk because at some point, name calling actually makes me a jerk. No sense in letting the jerk ruin your day.
Still, I’m glad I handled the situation the way I did. Now, to recap … you can best handle a jerk if you …
1. Limit engagement.
2. Walk away.
3. Minimize infection.
4. Remain cordial.
Of course, you could argue that the jerk actually did infect me because here I am sitting here telling you about it.
Okay, I admit it. He may have infected me a little. But here’s the thing. I think I’ve turned this infection into a benevolent virus. And guess what I’m doing as a result? I’m passing it on.
That’s how you handle a jerk.