Tuesday, March 17, 2020

How Not to Be Yourself

Among the more pernicious and universally accepted pieces of advice is this one: Be yourself. 

Heaven only knows what it means. Assuming that it means something. But, consider this letter to Miss Manners. The woman in question is obnoxious. She rankles, antagonizes and riles up others, but sees no reason to change her ways. She rationalizes her bad behavior by saying that she is being herself. Presumably, if she were to essay to practice good manners she would be betraying her inner truth.

It is a lame rationalization, offered by someone who has refused to adapt to circumstances. And who refuses to feel enough shame to change her abhorrent ways. It's what happens when you teach people not to feel ashamed of bad behavior.

Here is the letter:

I pride myself on being a blunt, yet kind, person. I choose my battles wisely, speak from my heart and always let someone know when they have upset me or my family.

I have some family members (in-laws) who are not used to my approach, which often leads them to ignore me, shame me on social media or call me names.

Should I just keep my mouth shut around them or continue to be me?

By the grace of the Almighty, this boor has chosen to write to the right advice columnist. Miss Manners responds, succinctly and cogently. We are happy to share it with you:

The “you” of whom you are so proud is, by your own account, someone who habitually antagonizes others and inspires them to retaliatory rudeness. Miss Manners would not care to attend your family gatherings.

Whatever you mean by “blunt, yet kind,” it is not working. Perhaps you mean the supposed kindness of pointing out everyone’s faults. As it serves no purpose but to inspire the targets to upset you even more, Miss Manners would think that the closed-mouth solution would be a good choice.

In other words, considering the level of the letter writer’s social skills, she would do best to keep her obnoxious opinions to herself, even if that means, shutting up.

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

She has her "bad self" persona working, "large and in charge". Needs the Dale Carnegie treatment: "How To Make Friends And Influence People".