Let's Talk Personal Comments
Back in April I got a job in customer service. This job requires me to be nice to people, walk around and make sure they're having a pleasant experience while also cleaning up after said messy people. It is a ton of walking everyday. It's also tedious, mind numbingly repetitive and somewhat physically demanding on my sloth body.
What is the point to this? Oh yeah! Back on track Beck, the point is I'm dealing with MANY more people a day than I used to. Before this job it was me by my lonesome most of the day. Now I have at least 100 customers not to mention from 1 to 10 coworkers at a time to mingle with every single day.
Obviously people have annoying habits like snapping in your face to get your attention when they already had it, telling you things like "You better" when they want something and my altogether favorite they don't listen and pay attention (Or they're on the phone while you are talking to them, HUGE BADNESS!) but expect everything to be perfect for them.
These interactions are annoying enough, enter the shaming that happens from people that do not know you from Adam. Where does this come from? Why is it socially acceptable to do this? Did they not have a mother that taught them not to make personal comments?
Home Training for Personal Comments
I'm a mom, I taught my autism spectrum daughter not to make personal comments. It's not that hard, when the four year old says "You have bad breath." You say to that four year old, we don't say that. That is a personal comment. If the person has bad breath, you say excuse me and walk away.
But no, these total strangers did not have this home training. Let's go over a few scenarios that have actually happened to me over the past few months. Not every single one, but just a few to illustrate that
- A: I should get a bonus every time I don't stab a person in the eye with a dirty, broken, plastic fork, and
- B: The type of thing that is said.
Stranger Lady One
It's a slow day, I'm kind of bored but in a fairly good mood. I'm dancing around the customer area, talking to people. Making sure they have what they need. Threatening to sing to little kids. Generally what you would call goofing off. Yet, I'm still doing my job. I'm just having a little fun with it.
Short time later we'll call her Stranger Lady One is sitting at a table. I ask her if she's having a good day, does she need anything, blah blah work related stuff. We joke for a few minutes. She's smiling, laughing, wishes she had fun at work. To which I say I make my fun!
Stranger lady one says "You are so cute, if you would lose weight you could really flirt with these guys!" I have to be honest, this interaction put me in a bad mood.
- One, you are assuming that my fun interactions were an attempt to get myself a man.
- Two, you assumed that fun and happy is flirting when the same behavior was graciously bestowed upon you.
- And three, I'm cute, but I'm fat so I'm not deserving a partner? Because that's what you are saying to me. Of course I had nothing to say other than "Good thing I'm not flirting huh? You have a great day!"
The rest of that shift was spent in my own head, thinking up snappy comebacks and wondering if I handled that situation appropriately or should I have had some choice four letter words for her. Honestly, I'm still not sure how I should have handled it. I felt embarrassed. More important than that I felt less than worthy to have had that happy moment. I don't believe that was the woman's intent, it's just how I felt about it.
Stranger Lady Two
Now let's look at a more minor situation. Stranger Lady Two tells me "You are so pretty and your eyes are stunning." At first this makes me grin because stunning is a word that Ki and I used for things that are really ugly and we don't want to hurt someone's feelings. (Ki here...I have no idea what she's talking about! I do NO SUCH THING! 😉)
So I say with the silly inside joke grin on my face "Thank you!" Stranger Lady two says then "Only one thing, you should wear your hair down. It looks long and will frame your face better."
I said, "Thank you for the comment and critique. I tell you what, you call Mother Nature and have her crank up the AC, I'll see what I can do about the hair."
I didn't ask for this unsolicited advice or critique of my appearance. At no point did I say Hello Strange person, what do you think I should do with my hair, my weight, my anything. Why do these absolute strangers feel like it's okay to make personal comments? Why do they feel like it's okay to shame someone they don't know into doing something with their body? I don't know the answer to these questions, but it isn't okay.
Coping with Personal Comments
My brand new coping mechanism is to kill them with truth politely. My go to response from now on will be one of the following:
- "My mother taught me not to make personal comments."
- "Thank you for that unsolicited critique on my appearance."
- "Thank you for your concern, but I want you to know that it embarrasses me when someone tells me that I would be pretty if I was skinny. It's fat shaming, if you don't think the overweight already knows that society thinks we're ugly and disgusting you are wrong."
- "Please do not make personal comments about me unless you are ready to hear some thoughts I have about your appearance."
Of course these responses do not cover the complete crap statements that people make to excuse whatever (Insert your own expletive.. I have a plethora of handy go to curse words) behaviors.
Statements like "No offense"; this is said either before or after the comment is made. My advice for this one is if the No offense is said before the sentence, stop the person. Literally say "I'm going to have to stop you right there, I feel like the next thing out of your mouth is not going to kind or helpful. I will absolutely take offense if it's warranted and you should know that before you complete that sentence. If it is in fact something that would not offend, is not a personal comment, is kind and or helpful then by all means, proceed with your statement. If it doesn't fit that criteria note that I will most likely be offended."
If it's stated after the word poison they just poured onto you, use the following: "Actually, I do take offense to what you just said. It was not in any way shape or form, kind or helpful. It was in fact embarrassing, shaming, and unsolicited. I would actually appreciate an apology."
Let's move onto the next "excuse to be a jerk" verbiage that's used. "Do you want me to be honest?" "Can I be honest?" Or any other form of this nonsense... I hate it. It's not honesty, it's an excuse for you to be cruel, offensive and sometimes just down right nasty! My response to this will be "If your honesty is cruel, offensive, not kind or helpful than no, absolutely not. Keep it to yourself. I have enough negative in my own head to feed my self esteem I don't need your "honesty" to add to it."
Is it rude to handle people this way? Or is it actually kind because they were never taught not to make personal comments? I don't know. I do know this much. My self esteem and I have to have tons of chats just to stay friends. I think these people who feel the need to say things to me need to take several seats and mind their own.
So, in conclusion to this super long ranty rant. You do you! Wear your hair like you want, wear make up or don't the way you want, and regardless of size and shape, don't let the punks bring you down. You are awesome in my book, just the way you are.
Until the next time, be kind to yourself and others.