I just got yelled at at the grocery store. Again.
As I was pushing my full cart out of the store, I stopped at the exit to sanitize my hands.
A woman behind me yelled something. Because she was in the doorway, I couldn’t quite make out what she said.
I turned around, surprised. She spat angrily: “And NOW you look surprised!”
“I am a bit surprised” I said. “You’re yelling at me.”
“She said: YOU LOOK GREAT! MOVE ON!”
Confused, I looked to the side - ahhhh… there was a mirror next to where I stopped to sanitize my hands. I guess “raging woman” thought I was checking out my outfit - straightening my jogging pants and making sure there was nothing stained on my tank top before I went back into the real world. Sigh.
“I wasn’t looking at myself, I was hand sanitizing”.
“Whatever” she replied as she took her cart and blew past me.
“You know” I said louder so she could hear “We’re all struggling. Stop putting your struggles on others.”
She lifted her hand and made a talking duck motion towards me as she walked away.
How many other interactions are we having like this these days? Covid is bringing out the best and the worst of ALL of us.
But really - there is a significant uptick in public displays of anger. In my 27 other years of grocery store shopping, I have been yelled at a total of ZERO times, and now, it’s happened 3 times (including a nasty note on my car) in 5 months.
So - what do we do?
First, we understand that people are struggling big time. They are frustrated, and caged in, and scared, and irritated…. And, I guess, we need to expect that some people in our society are going to explode on others - doing, well, probably anything - like taking a moment to hand-sanitize.
Secondly, I think we need to speak up. I’m not suggesting to yell back - that would be you putting your stuff on them - and could quickly escalate. What I am saying is to speak up, and when you do - be both STRONG and KIND.
Here’s why: The other 3 interactions with grocery-store-meanies left me speechless. After two of the incidents, it took me about a week to feel okay about the interaction. To look at this from the lens of bullying - we can assume that these grocery-store-yellers are needing power, and will take power away from unsuspecting shoppers and shop staff. Saying nothing means we gave some of our power away. When we feel powerless, we shrink, we blame ourselves, or we ruminate and wish we could have said something...
BUT - if we can remain in control, stay boundaried and polite, then no power is given.
Today’s interaction has left me feeling proud. I did need a few moments to compose myself after, but, I feel great - and I can’t believe I stood up for myself as well as I did. (There’s the strong). But, it’s also left me feeling a little bad for that woman. I mean, whose life is hard enough that they yell at complete strangers? (Here’s the kind).
If you are also interested in finding your strong & kind, here are some tips: Notice that what I said was factual. It was direct. And, gave her a little life tip in the process - which, is kind. The tip wasn't snarky or rude, it was genuine. I felt she needed to learn that lesson.
So - come up with something good too. Make sure it sounds like you, AND that it is both strong and kind. If it feels true to you, you’ll say it.
And, if and when you have to use it, message me and tell me how it went! We can raise a glass to facing these grocery-store-meanies together!
#conflictmanagement #strongandkind #thirdway #kathleenhilcheyantibullying #boundaries #handsanitizer #covidrage #antibullying #care #groceryshopping #groceryshoppingtips
Kathleen is an anti-bullying specialist, a conflict coach, a teacher, mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend...