How to Handle Confrontation

Hey guys! It’s 6:12pm right now. I’m sitting in a local Starbucks, typing away.

I just finished working out at the gym. Had a nice swim, relaxed in the jacuzzi and did some sun-bathing. All was well, until I got to the locker room. I was talking on the phone with my best friend. The locker room has a no cell phone policy, so I will admit it was my mistake to be on my phone there. As I was talking, one middle-aged lady walked up to me and said, in the sassiest tone you could imagine, “Excuse me. You know there are no phones allowed in the locker room. Yeah– you see that sign? It says so right there.” I apologized to the lady and told my friend I’d call her back.

But the lady wouldn’t stop there. She continued, to her friend, “God. I can’t believe some people. They get memberships here and don’t follow the rules… They say they don’t see the sign or whatever… Puh-leez. If you want to talk on the phone, go over to the jacuzzi… drown the phone in the water, for all I care.”

Her friend replied, “Well you know, everyone does it.”

The lady continued ranting, and her friend just laughed along.

I overheard all this very rude banter, and I knew she wanted me to hear it. That part, I couldn’t stand. I walked over to the showers and placed my towels on the rack. I was going to let the whole situation go… but a part of me felt the need to defend myself. I wasn’t okay with that lady’s behavior and the rude things she said. It was neither decent nor respectful.

So I walked back over to the lockers, and after spending a few minutes contemplating what I’d say, I stormed over to the lady and her friend.

“Excuse me,” I said. The lady saw me and started rolling her eyes to her friend, without making eye contact with me.

I began, “You know, I appreciate you informing me that there are no cell phones allowed, and I will not do it again.”

The lady nodded her head in agreement.

I continued, “But you know, there is a nicer way to speak to someone. I’m 19 years old, and never in my life have I been spoken to in that way.”

The lady and her friend looked at me and gave a start when I mentioned my age. After I reprimanded her some more, the lady interrupted me and said, “Are you done? Is it my turn?” I nodded my head, handing the floor over to her.

She said something along the lines of, “I appreciate you appreciating me, and I do know that there is a nicer way to say things. I hope I can learn from you in the future.”

I was satisfied. I gave her my hand to shake, and she just ignored it and proceeded with her makeup, telling me, “Oh, we don’t need to shake hands. Nice meeting you. Have a good day.”

I walked away, a little bit shaken but immensely proud for asserting myself and standing up for what I felt was right.

The lady, needing to save her face in front of her friend, then continued: “Man, I wish I was that smart when I was 19. In another life, maybe. But god, people always say ‘You could have said it in a nicer way…’ Excuse me but I will say it however I please, and if you’re not okay with that, go to another gym!”

It just saddens me, you know? That other people have to put up with this lady’s negative energy. I pity her. She must not be happy with her own life and feels the need to take it out on others. Yes, I was in the wrong for using my cell phone in the locker room. Still, that is no excuse to treat someone with disrespect. I hope she will learn from this experience not speak to people in that way again. She probably won’t… but you know what? At least I voiced my opinion and rose above her.

I’m happy I encountered this lady, actually. In life, there are gonna be loads of really unpleasant people to deal with. Being so young and having lived a sheltered childhood, I never had to deal with many such people in my life… but I know that there will only be more and more of these crazy people in the future. The key is to stand up for what you believe is right– in this case, I did not think that lady should have spoken to me in such a manner, and I let her know it.

It’s true when they say, “Kill em’ with kindness.” I’ve learned that, when faced with confrontations, it’s important to get your point across without deliberately demeaning or disrespecting the opposing party. Be assertive. It’s a skill many have yet to master, myself included. Today was a great learning experience, though. It was my first time verbally standing up for myself– really, I’ve long struggled with doing so. In high school, I had the unfortunate experience of being made-fun of by some peers. The first time was a clique whom my best friend at the time and I would sit by during lunch. My friend and I were both into gymnastics, so we’d do cartwheels and other acrobatic tricks near them. They seemed to derive pleasure in making fun of the two of us, for whatever reason. At the time, I didn’t have the courage to stick up for me and my friend. I just took the blows. The same thing happened my senior year of high school. I was in my human biology class, home to many unmotivated students (I took the class over AP Biology because I wanted more time to dance that year). Anyway, there was one girl who sat in the back and would constantly be chatting during lecture, thus posing as a disruption to my learning. One day, I had had enough of her ruckus and called her out in front of the class. From that day on, she made it her goal to make me feel uncomfortable in that class. We had a final presentation, and I overheard her telling her friends that she’d sabotage my presentation in whatever way she could– make loud noise while I was speaking, be a rude audience member, etc. I reported her to the teacher, who I supposed talked to her, and later in the year, she apologized to me for treating me the way she did. I did appreciate her apology… but a part of me really wished I had called her out sooner and stood up for myself, instead of keeping quiet and enduring her bullying for as long as I did.

All this to say, I am pleased with my growth into a strong, vocal young woman, unafraid to stand up for herself and others. You must value yourself enough to not let others step on you.

Enjoy the rest of your day, and remember to be the bigger person when faced with crappy characters.






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