You never … It’s been forever… You always… I used to…
These are the phrases they sometimes refer to as “God Almighty statements.” They are voiced by those in frustration who have a general sense of injustices committed against them. Like when a boss tells an employee you are always late. The record, if there is one, can prove they are not always late but maybe more often than not. Or a spouse can say “you never listen to me” and if the other spouse hears that, well, the defense rests.
Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts. You can be that person. You can be the kind of person who knows exactly the dates and times of said injustices and can air your grievances with full certainty. You can keep a record of wrongs for all your days, as some do. I know a woman who remembered every mean, or seemingly or interpreted as mean, thing said, who said it, and probably what they were wearing at the time. She was not the happiest of women. She was really great at Trivial Pursuit though. The game. And the lifelong efforts that made her the kind of person you were hesitant to be around for fear of offending her somehow.
In my past life as a human resources manager, we were all about facts. There are people who like to create matrices that determine all manners of behaviors and trends, assigning numbers to tasks and objectives and whittling away at a person’s hopes and dreams until they become a solid career person with average to slightly above average productivity. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my office. We hung motivational posters every where. It was very… motivational for me… to find another office.
My point though is that there’s something to be said for having your facts straight. Rumors fly when facts are all wonky. And grievances tend to expand and multiply when someone is less than irrational and doesn’t have a firm grip on what actually happened, what could have happened and did not, and/or what a person’s intentions truly are in the first place.
In my opinion, it all boils down to bearing false witness. A familiar phrase, perhaps, to some of you. We rework the “facts” and let resentment, fear, bitterness, take root and grow into enormous weeds that blow everything out of proportion so that even the smallest of offenses (he left the toilet seat up) become epic (and you fell in? no? oh so you just had to put it back down? oh horror! that sounds tragic!).
On the flip side of not reacting, is reacting in proportion to the crime. Sometimes people let things go and just stew about it and weeks from now, they’ll bring it up as if the person just did it. Or it will come out in a god almighty phrase like “you always cut me off in the middle of telling my story.” (maybe this is one of several reasons why I write a blog. No one can cut m..)
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The art of airing grievances is, well, an art. Read any book or paper on conflict resolution and they will offer suggestions like compliment sammiches (or is it criticism sammiches – because you usually refer to a sammich by their main ingredient/meat not their bread… and why am I writing sammich? mmmm bread… ) Or they might talk about how you compromise on the things you can compromise on and take stock of what battles you need to fight and which you can forfeit – how you avoid the “won the battle but lost the war” kind of effect.
But we know there’s a fine line between letting things go and being a doormat. Like how I tend to forget when people owe me money, which sounds all generous and kind, but I also tend to forget when I owe others money, which sounds like I’m a freeloading doofus. But I’d like to think that I just keep a short record of accounts and my list of grievances is never much longer than the five minutes it takes me to remember them. Besides, I can’t count much higher than five any way.
“As far as it depends on me, I [try to] live at peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:18