It’s going to happen. On your conquest through life, others are going to lie about you, stab you in the back, confuse your motives, and misinterpret your intentions. They are going to over react, blame you, say mean things about you — to everyone around you. They’re going to shout, point fingers, lie, scream, and accuse you of things that are just not true.
And you’re going to feel betrayed, indignant, and full of righteous rage.
Which is going to make you do the wrong thing. You’re going to lash out. Defend yourself. Make sure everyone knows that you are being wronged.
And while you’re litigating your side of the story, everyone around you is scratching their head wondering when you got so damn cranky. You sound angry, bitter, irrational, and mean. That’s what happens naturally.
When you feel threatened, you do stupid things that make it seem like your unfair treatment might not be so unfair after all.
So it’s important to be deliberate about what you do next.
Here are a few things to do:
1. Stop shouting. Start listening. For right now at least.
For at least 24 hours, don’t do anything. Don’t defend yourself. Don’t lash out. Find some place that’s quiet and think things through. Just listen. There will be a time when you need to go to war. There will be a time where you need to defend yourself. Time to decry your treatment. But that time is not right now.
It’s a big mistake to act too quickly on your emotions — because they’re making you irrational. Everything you do will be tinged with anger and bitterness. So just stop shouting and start listening. Listen for what isn’t being said. Listen for the feelings and emotions that you hear expressed by others. For a few moments concentrate on others — not on yourself.
What you hear will be important for what you do next.
2. Don’t write out a long explanation of why you are right.
You might think that you’re being more logical by sitting down and writing out your side of the story. That’s probably not going to help you at all. In fact, writing out all the gory details just makes you seem petty and small minded. And it’s further depressing. Even if you’re dead right. If you have a popular blog or write articles that are published in online newspapers, you have an immediate channel to clarify your position. But it’s a whole lot better if you don’t do that.
Those who read what you write and already agree with you won’t think more of you because of what you write. Those who don’t agree with you already aren’t likely to suddenly agree with you because of what you wrote. What you expect to happen isn’t going to happen. You’re wasting your time. And more importantly, you are wasting an opportunity to rise above the unfair treatment you have experienced.
Writing it all down doesn’t help you.
3. Reach out directly (and privately) to the other person.
If you’re trying to resolve a situation where someone else misunderstood you, then reach out directly to the person who caused the problem. It makes no sense to waste your emotions defending yourself to everyone else when you could simply be explaining your intentions to the person who treated you wrong. Send an email. Pick up the phone and call them. Use social media. There’s no excuse to not connect directly and work through this situation.
It’s not a grudge match. It’s just a conversation. Start off the conversation by simply explaining your intentions. You don’t need to justify what you did or defend it as being right. Just explain what you think the other person misunderstood. If you need to apologize for not being clear the first time, then do that. You don’t need a roomful of people or a newspaper full of readers to resolve the situation. You need one-on-one access.
Don’t waste your emotions on things that don’t matter.
4. Apologize and change if you need to. If not, don’t fake it.
Sometimes you get things wrong. There will be times when you weren’t misunderstood — you were just wrong. Whether it’s an accident or a deliberate action that you undertook, there are times where you get it wrong. You can feud about the style of the person who treated you unfairly, or you can apologize and move on. They don’t need to forgive you for you to change. You need to change because you want to be better.
And if you don’t want to change, then don’t. What only makes situations like this even worse is when you pretend to change but have no intention of doing anything different. Sometimes you don’t need to change — you just need to apologize for something that happened and move on. Don’t fake it. That just makes things worse.
Apologize when you’re wrong. Pick up the pieces and move on. Don’t make the problem worse by being a phony.
5. Keep being “you” in the meanwhile. And forever after that.
Being treated unfairly is a nasty feeling. It feels pretty horrible to be taken advantage of publicly. Even if you did something wrong to cause the poor treatment, you won’t feel any better while you’re being shamed. The secret to making it through that experience is to just be “you”. Don’t do other things because people are watching. Don’t adopt new habits because you think it will help people like you more. Just be you.
Follow your dreams. Attack the challenges you were attacking before all of this mess happened. Keep learning. Keep living. Keep leading others. Days quickly turn into weeks. Those weeks quickly turn into months. It’s easy to let your dreams fall aside as you let yourself be distracted by the worst things in life. Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t let your dreams be squashed by attitudes that are entirely in your control.
Be fearless even if you’re fearful at the time.
Anything else you do is going to come off sounding angry or pathetic.
And neither of those make for improving your reputation, making progress, or otherwise convincing those around you that you are being wronged.
Don’t let the emotions of being hurt trick you into acting like an idiot.
Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Hang in there. Be awesome.