How to be an accidental jerk

Have you ever been bullied? Have you ever had people say mean things to you? Has anyone ever talked behind your back, maybe someone you thought was a friend turned out to have a secret vendetta against you?

Have you ever done that yourself?

I know I have.

I think it’s easier to remember when someone was mean to you – but when you’ve been mean to someone?

You weren’t being mean, you were just teasing.

You weren’t being passive aggressive, that person’s just unapproachable.

You weren’t talking crap, you were just venting.

All these examples – that’s me in real life. I’ve done all those things and more, and I know I haven’t had an opportunity to apologize for every mean thing I’ve said, intentional or not. And at this point, there’s not much use in tracking down every person I’ve ever wronged or thought I wronged. I’ve apologized to coworkers for being too standoffish and my apologies are typically met with a confused, “You were being standoffish?”

Brendan Leonard mentions this tendency as well:

Do you ever catch yourself being an asshole? In the car, on the Internet, to a barista who misunderstood your order, to a person who disagrees with your political views?

It’s easiest to catch myself when I’m driving – somehow you feel immune in that metal container. But those other times? I’m still learning.

I’m trying to read people better – I like reading stuff on microexpressions and learning how to decode them – and just trust my vibes that I get from them. I’ll ask for feedback, and hopefully implement it.

But knowing that I am trying my best to not intentionally hurt people? Hopefully that’ll make me more forgiving too. It’s a process.

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