There are some people who have a style of talking that is a tad abrasive. The way they say things or the words they use have an edge to them. This abrasive, edgy style of talking is noticeable in every third or fourth comment they make, no matter what the subject is.
With the abrasive ones, you get the feeling that they are looking for a verbal confrontation. I sense a not-so-hidden anger in their voice and posture. They often move up close to you when they speak, and you can almost smell their tension.
Their aggressiveness is so obvious that it is not intimidating to me. I have learned to speak directly to these types, and it usually works. I say things like, “You sound p… off, am I right?”
Sometimes I tell them to quit looking so earnest or serious. Occasionally, I just tease them and laugh. A little humor will sometimes calm them down and make them change directions.
At times I believe that many of these abrasive-speaking people are not aware of their confrontative behavior. In fact, they seem surprised when I point out their behavior to them.
If humor doesn’t work at all with an abrasive personality, I quit trying to change them — and I stay away from them.
It’s interesting to me that often these abrasive types marry mellow, laid-back people. Why would a mellow person want to spend a lifetime with an abrasive person? Are we talking about a volunteer victim?
In the future, if you decide to talk abrasively to me, just be aware that I will make fun of you and I will not take you very seriously.
Your verbal hostility means you don’t want people to get close to you for whatever reason. It also usually means that you will probably never have many friends. The few friends you may have are probably angry and controlling, too. You and your friends can play the “Ain’t life awful” game all day long.
If anger is your constant bed partner, you will have more nightmares than dreams. When you wake up, you are looking for a fight, and you will create an uneasy, uncomfortable world for those around you.
People who start the morning off by saying, “You left the porch light on again” or “Why didn’t you close the window last night?” are looking for an argument. The way you act or talk in the first 22 minutes of your day will determine how the day unfolds. A bitter or angry start guarantees a lousy day and a no-intimacy evening.
When your day doesn’t start right, assume that you got the bad karma out of the way early on, and the remainder of your day will get better and end with positive karma. A bad start does not have to result in a bad ending. It all depends on your attitude.
Those who wake up expecting a bad day usually get their wish fulfilled. Negative attitude creates negative behavior. Negative behavior creates negative responses from the people around you. Before you know it, everyone is edgy, angry and pessimistic about everything. Your expectations determine your reality.
I recommend that you deal with abrasive people each and every time they are abrasive with you. They may not be aware of their talking style. You need to let them know that they are making you and others defensive and uncomfortable. If they refuse to change, don’t waste your time or your life with them.
Ongoing abrasive people often get their way because a lot of people are afraid to tangle with them. Don’t be afraid of them. If you are afraid, they will believe they own you and will not change. Don’t allow them to turn you into a non-person.
Bob Billingsley is an El Dorado Hills resident and biweekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat.