Okay, first of all, this is not a post on how to physically defend yourself. Any questions about that need to be directed to Chuck Norris, Jack Bauer, or to my 7-year old daughter, who went to a 5 day karate camp last summer…she believes that she is now a black belt. This is about how to react to a non-physical, personal, emotional, mental attack.
Secondly, this has NOTHING to do with, I repeat NOTHING to do with any interaction I have recently had (or ever had for that matter) with my real job, at the church, my ministry, or with any loving church folk. This idea came from an extracurricular activity/hobby, if you will, that I am involved with.
Here’s the setup. I received the most hateful, rude, disgusting email about a week ago, personally attacking me, and pretty much everything I stand for. I can honestly say, it’s really the one and only time I’ve ever received any correspondence quite like it before! Needless to say, it really threw me for a loop. I was hurt, depressed, angry, and a host of other emotions, yet I knew my response would either extinguish or ignite the situation.
So here’s how you react, to an attack.
- Delay your response. What? Huh? Shouldn”t we instinctively, immediately retaliate to prove our point and defend ourselves? I mean, after all, most of what was said in the email was false, and a total disillusionment of the truth. I had every right to throw out the filter, and speak my mind! However, I took a deep breathe, and then another, and then another, and tried to go about my business, because I knew if I responded to the email immediately, I would no doubt be driven by emotion, as opposed to logic.
- Consult with someone. Obviously, if it’s work related, you should immediately contact your superior to explain the situation to them. The sooner they know about this, the better. In some cases, they might be aware of the “attack” as soon as you are made aware of it (people can send emails out to more than one person at a time you know…lol). Clearly, you need to make sure you are on the same page with them! Which is a great segue to my next point.
- Strategically consider your response. If appropriate, consult with your superior on this (I said if appropriate, because it could be a situation where your superior is “attacking” you…crazy I know, but it could happen). It might be in the best interest of the company or organization if you’re at least responding in the same manner. You certainly wouldn’t want to send a contradicting or conflicting message. Ultimately, you defending yourself should probably be the least of your concerns. In fact, if you need to be defended, I would imagine that your superior would want to defend you! Those that know you, and care about you, won’t necessarily be swayed by slanderous comments or vicious attacks on you or your character.
- Now what? At some point, you will probably have to respond. In fact, you can’t NOT respond. So here’s what I did. Of course, and I failed to mention this earlier, the email I received was anonymous. The individual that attacked me went to the trouble to create a fake email account, so I really don’t even know who sent it! Nevertheless, my response was brief, yet to the point. I first and foremost explained that I appreciated their suggestions, and that I would do everything in my power to improve and get better. I did let them know that I had consulted with the leader of our organization, and that we were committed to them “getting their money’s worth”. I went on to explain that I have always made myself available and open to comments or suggestions, and I appreciated their feedback.
Honestly, this would not have been my initial response, had I immediately replied to their email. Some would call this “the high road”, others would say I have no backbone, and that I’m a big pushover. And maybe they’re right. I certainly could have responded by giving them a piece of my mind, although I’m quite certain I don’t have a lot to spare. However, at some point, I will see this individual again, and hopefully, I will be given the chance to win them over. I even went as far as asking them for their future support and confidence.
We’ll see how this situation plays out. But now, almost a week later, I have absolutely no regrets about the way I handled the situation. And, I hope when and if you are at some point attacked, you’ll remember this advice, and have no regrets either.
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