Even if you don’t know it, we have all heard hidden insults. Say your girlfriend is taking you to meet her parents tonight and you throw on what you usually would. Maybe you bump the shirt to a button up, but you are thinking you don’t need to try too hard. She loves you the way you are so her parents should too, right? Then she walks into the room, “is that what you’re wearing tonight?” The disgust on her face says it all. She posed her question in a way that you can’t get upset. I mean, she never said she didn’t like it, but you know exactly what she means. So, off to your closet for round two.
Okay, that was a pretty obvious example, but sometimes people can say something insulting without even meaning to. They talk without thinking and, bam, your heart is broken. Despite the despair throbbing in your chest, you smile and go on with your day because they don’t even know they said something wrong. Maybe, but sometimes you get really upset and point out what they said. Then they either apologize immediately or don’t understand and you must choose between frustratingly pointing out the obvious or just letting it slide. What do you normally do?
Some of us are more sensitive than others and some people just plain over react. While hidden or unknown insults are a common social interaction issue this is something pretty important. It is moments like these that can make or break a relationship. They can ruin a friendship or fix an unreasonably broken one. On the sensitive to tough scale, physically, I lean towards tough. Mentally, however, I lean towards sensitive. Keeping this in mind as I go throughout my day I often face insults that the people around me didn’t even mean to make. Most of the time, I know I am overreacting and go on with my life, but sometimes I just have to say something. It can be hard to differentiate between when you’re making it into something big and when it really is something big.
Let me shed some light on this shady topic. It is all in the type of relation you have with the person, the tone and the facial expression that correspond with the statement you are finding to be an insult. Are they saying what they are saying to make you aware of some changes you may want to make before other people point it out? For example, if someone implies a shirt makes you look fat, are they saying it to make a point that you indeed are not fat and may want to change into something more flattering or are they just being plain rude? First look at the relation you have to the person. If it is a family member, someone you are close to, such as your mom or even a friend, you may want to assume they are trying to help. Next, look at the facial expression. Are their eyebrows furrowed and they’re biting their lip? It could go either way. Last, listen to their tone. Is it cheerful, sweet, or demanding? Small details that make a huge difference.
One reason this small topic is important nowadays is because of social media and how we interact because of our constant use of technology. Texting it isn’t easy to portray tone and even emoticons don’t always show the right emotion. In a text, the wording is everything. In real life, however, it may seem more difficult because you are paying attention to so many more aspects of a person during a conversation, but in reality, it is easier because as they use their tone and expression together with their words it can be easier to convey meaning.
Before automatically getting offended at a small comment a person makes, take a step back and analyze the situation. Did they mean to say it the way they did? Look at it from their perspective. If you said the same thing to them, would they feel bad too or is it just you? If you really just don’t know or if you feel really upset, don’t assume right away. It is okay to ask people what they mean by what they say. It is in this way that some relationships and friendships are saved. When someone rushes to assume the worst and doesn’t ask what the person meant before storming away or making matters worse by throwing harsh words in return they can easily turn nothing into something that was never meant to be.
As fall comes our way and you begin to stay inside more out of the cold with your loved ones, don’t heat up the place with frustration and contempt. Keep a cool head, take a breath, and talk about it. You may not want to, but once you hear the truth from their mouth and not the worst possibility from your head, a lot will clear up. Let the fireplace and cuddles keep your house warm and save the fights for next summer when you won’t want to because it will just be too darn hot out.