Etiquette School is in session! > Complete Silence

Silence used to stun a PA "joker"

(1/4) > >>

After my first and only car accident when I was in high school I was physically hurt, embarrassed because it was my fault, scared about the legal and financial consequences I was facing, and worried about everyone involved (fortunately, no one was seriously hurt). 

This classmate who was just an acquaintance greeted me with a big smile at the school yard: “Hey, I heard you had a car accident!” and started laughing and repeating the details she heard through the grapevine, barely able to contain her laughter.  Between bouts of laughter, she managed to insult me to my face, calling me an idiot for causing the accident.  How could I possibly did what I did, wasn’t I paying attention?  And so on. 

I think she was probably expecting that I would laugh with her out of humiliation and hang my head down.  Or if I had reacted with anger she would have accused me of having no sense of humor.  The perfect PA technique, although at the time I wouldn't have known how to call it. 

Instead, I gave her a long, blank stare, straight in her eyes, with no emotion whatsoever, and let her speak and laugh by herself... as in “I’m letting you listen to yourself until you realize how absurd you sound”…  I could tell when her smile started to fade and she was the one who ended up looking a bit humiliated.   

Just wanted to share this story and ask: have you ever used silence to successfully stun one of those people who insult you to your face in a "joking", "playful" manner? 

Chocolate Cake:
A day or two after my 5 year wedding anniversary, I was outside chatting with my neighbor (a married mid-40's man with grown children) and proudly mentioned that my husband and I had just celebrated five years of marriage.   He said, "Congratulations!  That's great, but I have to tell you that years 5-9 really suck."

I just looked at him.

To his credit, his face turned red and he bowed his head and said, "I'm so sorry.  I don't know why I said that."

Wow.  Did anyone else observe it or was it just the 2 of you?

I was out with some friends one night and one of the people there was the BF of my BFF, a guy I could not tolerate.  He wasn't PA, he was just....a garden variety jerk.   So we're at the restaurant and I order a glass of red wine.  "Hahaha!  Aren't you a substance abuse counselor?  *weird chuckle*  And you're drinking!!  How can you tell others to quit when you can't do it yourself??! *weird chuckle*  Maybe you should check into your own rehab *verrry weird chuckle*

So I just stared at him.  And stared.  People were speaking up and I didn't even acknowledge them.  I just stared.  Then he mumbled he was only joking (I guess that is PA!) and he started in on "Can't you take a simple joke"?  I kept staring.

It never occurred to me to leave because, rightly or wrongly, I saw that as some sort of victory of his and I'd win if I stayed and stared.  I did tell my BFF later that I had just spent the last evening of my life with him.  Oddly, a week later she came to that same conclusion :)

I was once at a customer's chatting with one of the workers there. For some reason, he decided to tell me an *incredibly* foul racist joke. I found the "stare blankly and say nothing until he slinks away" method very useful, because truly, I had nothing I could think to say.

Chocolate Cake:
Wow.  Did anyone else observe it or was it just the 2 of you?

Nope, it was just us and I've always felt badly for his wife that he thought this way about their marriage.   If I could run across him now, I'd be pleased to tell him how very, very wrong he was about years 5-9 or, for that matter, 10-13, or 14-17 (just celebrated #17 last month).  ;D


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version