Turning the other cheek versus being a doormat – Is there a difference?

IMG_5062We’ve all been there. Someone makes a nasty remark that was uncalled for, and you’re faced with the decision of either snapping back and putting that person in their place, or silently enduring a figurative slap in the face.

A while back I was caught in this situation. I unknowingly did something that upset someone, and rather than communicating this to me so we could work it out, they made a nasty comment that blatantly questioned my competence. Ouch! But instead of standing up for myself, I remained silent and let the comment pass. I stewed over the sting of it for several days afterward.

I will admit, I’m not very good with sharp comebacks when it comes to standing up for myself. I wouldn’t say that I’m anybody’s doormat and I allow people to stomp all over me. I just don’t have it in me to be mean, and that sometimes translates to letting people get away with unacceptable rudeness that should have been corrected.

So here’s my question: is there a way to turn the other cheek and be the bigger person while still standing up for yourself?

Not an easy question by any means, and I’m not sure my own logic has brought me to the best answer, but I’m going to give it a try. This situation reminded me of another that was completely different, but somehow relevant.

A few weeks ago I was working on a group activity with two other young women in a class. We were sharing our ideas for an upcoming project and providing one-another with feedback. When one finished explaining her thoughts about a particular topic, the other said ‘I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at. Can you explain?’ It was direct yet polite, and I immediately respected her for her assertiveness.

I feel as though this translates back to the prior situation. What if I had politely responded to said comment by directly addressing it? I could have countered the comment with this: ‘I believe we had a misunderstanding and we interpreted that situation differently. Did I do something to offend you?’ This would have turned it back around on the nasty comment maker and essentially called them out on their verbal fire without directly saying ‘That was rude!’ It’s hard to predict how the other person would have reacted to that, but at least I would not have left an impression that I’m easy to push around.

I don’t feel as though turning the other check means allowing yourself to get verbally slapped in the face. I believe it has more to do with facing a situation directly and in a courteous manner, and working out conflict in a way that is respectful to yourself and the offender so that nobody leaves feeling bitter.

Moving forward, I plan to be more assertive in situations such as this. Because in order to respect others, it’s important to expect that others respect you.