A Do No Harm, but Take No Sh*t Guide to Dealing with Others.

oz dean/Flickr

**Warning: naughty language ahead!**

Here’s how I work: I’m extremely friendly and respectful to those who obey the laws of common decency when interacting with others.

However, if someone is rude to me, I have a one warning rule. I’ll give a PMS-pass for the first occasion of rudeness (for men, I call this the Pissy Man Syndrome pass). After that, I will certainly stand up for myself and adhere to the boundaries by which I operate—rudeness will not be tolerated, so get it together or rue the day you didn’t.

We all experience difficult days, life events that challenge us, illnesses that make our days difficult and times of great stress that wear us down. It can be difficult at those times to be on our best behavior with our fellow human beings, and I am as guilty of this as anyone.

Additionally, we all have experienced levels of unkindness from others. We’ve each been on the receiving end of someone’s bad day or stressful situation. Oftentimes, the people who are the most unkind are the ones who need kindness the most. Unfortunately, their behavior often guarantees that they won’t get what they need.

Due to some recent negative experiences, I’ve been thinking about behavior in social situations with a particular emphasis on kindness or the lack thereof. In each of these experiences, the responses I received were not appropriate given the situation. These unkind behaviors weren’t reactions to a discourtesy that I’d shown; in fact, there was nothing in these encounters that I could really account for.

I simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got on the receiving end of someone’s bad day.

With a focus on kindness and mindful living, I feel that it’s important that we maintain strong personal boundaries, but that we also behave with kindness towards each other. It’s equally important to protect ourselves as it is to be kind to others when possible. It goes back to the “Do no harm, but take no shit” rule.

I fully embrace that sentiment, but it can be difficult to put into practice. Here are some ways we can embrace this as a part of our lifestyle when the PMS-pass has been used and social courtesy has not been observed:

1. Rather than collecting instances that have offended us, we need to speak out immediately and let others know that their actions are not acceptable. When a coworker cuts us off mid-sentence with a rude remark, instead of seething inside, we can calmly state that we will speak to them when we have finished our current conversation. If that doesn’t work, we can always take that person aside and remind them that while we are perfectly happy to attend to their needs, we do not find interruptions and rude comments to be acceptable ways of getting our attention.

By speaking calmly, we do no harm. By speaking up about how the action made us feel, we take no shit.

2. Rather than responding with an equivalent show of discourtesy, we can find ways to calmly state our boundaries. Instead of responding in anger, using abusive language or being passive aggressive, we can simply state what we will and will not allow. It’s as easy as calmly telling the telemarketer that we are not interested in their product, but we hope they have a nice day.

By stating our needs simply—without resorting to unkindness—we do no harm. By holding fast to our boundaries, we take no shit.

3. When we notice a pattern of behavior that continues to violate our boundaries, we can strategize about how we would prefer to handle this. We have the option of responding in kindness or we can choose to remove that relationship from our lives or limit our contact with that person. I’ve certainly had to eliminate relationships from my life when the boundary violations were simply too much to continue to manage peacefully. These relationships were limited (or in some cases eliminated) not in an act of anger, but in order to create peace in my own life.

By separating ourselves from these types of relationships, we do no harm, but also take no shit at the same time.

4. We can say “No.” We don’t have to explain our no. We simply have to hold fast to it.

Saying “No” to obligations that burden us does no harm and in fact protects our own energies. Holding fast to our “No” is our way of not taking any shit.

This is, of course, not a complete guide, but with these few basics, we may find it easier to navigate our social interactions with less frustration. By taking these four steps, we are taking responsibility for our lives and the relationships in them.

We can still practice kindness and be fully invested in our relationships. In fact, we’ll be more able to do these things when our time and energy is not being devoted to the anger we used to experience when we did not practice good communication or enforce our own boundaries.

Instead, we can live our lives in joy with other people who are willing to respect our sacred space.

Author: Crystal Jackson

Editor: Nicole Cameron

Image: oz dean/Flickr

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Veronika Prull-Elnrieder Oct 18, 2018 1:42pm

But his ways of doing it are absolutely shitty - a disgrace to a great country.

Kayla Watt Feb 15, 2018 2:54pm

Something that helps me overcome that urge to say yes to others all the time is reminding myself that I’m not saying no to them, that I’m saying yes to myself.

Mladen Medur Jul 8, 2016 2:11pm

I'm realizing that people take advantage of me or are rude because I'm not loving myself. Being merciful with myself, gentle with myself , loving myself for all the wonderful things I do as well for all not so wonderful thing that I do. I do no harm(although I did most harm to myself) but there are times my reactions are not appropriate and I love myself for learning and growing. Love yourself more than love yourself some more and some more. Your ego will not increase just your happiness. I'm becoming aware that "rude" is a judgment word we use to justify our anger. If we had no past hurts the "rude" behavior would not phase us. But we do have the past hurts. If someone close to me says or does something that creates hurt in me I let them know what I'm feeling without putting the blame on them. If it's a stranger then I just feel the feelings without holding him responsible. I'm learning not to take things personally. As the article states,people who need kindness the most are usually acting most inappropriately. But the more you are grateful and the more you love yourself the more loving people come into your life and the more you love others. Love yourself and set yourself free.

Cindy Williams Leonard Jul 3, 2016 6:46pm

If he only had a brain and a heart.

Pamela Alexander Jun 2, 2016 3:57pm

Thanks Crystal. There is a lot of conversation around "boundaries" out there in the personal wellness and self-help world. What I like about your article is concrete examples that bring kindness and boundary together.

Helen Rose Jun 1, 2016 10:42pm

Thank you Crystal, I have mediatated for about 4 years, and you are "Spot on" when you say the closest ones are usually the most hurtful. I never reacted in anger but did sulk for a long time, and trying to get over the hurt. I should have done what you recommended, but the thing is....I wasn't prepared for the slanger, it always seems to happen when you lest expect it. Well written and thank you, wise words, just got to practise them.

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Crystal Jackson

Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned full-time writer. Her first fiction novel Left on Main, the first in the Map of Madison series, will be released by Sands Press in October 2019. Her work has been featured on Elephant Journal, Medium, Elite Daily, Your Tango, The Good Men Project, The Urban Howl, and Sivana East. You can follow Crystal on Facebook or at www.crystaljacksonwriter.com