Standing up for ourselves usually and probably takes one of two forms: either we don’t or we go crazy. Let’s expand on this. When we feel we’ve been wronged or cheated or dealt with unfairly, a lot of times we’ll just suck it up. We will rationalize by figuring, well, you can’t fight city hall, or it’s a big corporation and they don’t care and there’s nothing I can do about it, or it’s so involved and complicated getting through the myriad menus on the automatic response that it’s probably just cheaper and more time-efficient to just let it go.
The other way we stand up for ourselves is by declaring war. We go ballistic (love that word) on the offending party. And they are offending to us, right? I mean, how dare they try to cheat us! Of course they tried to cheat us, that’s the only explanation and it’s what they do, to try to give us something that’s not worth anything, charge us an arm and a leg, and then disappear or thwart our efforts to get any type of justice. So we’re going to show them, aren’t we! Heaven help the poor sap that takes our call or start to service us because we are going to show them. Add in a few vulgarities and you have the makings of a trip to the local mental health facility and new straightjacket.
We don’t even want to try to be polite and approach it from a problem-solving point of view because we immediately assume that the only way we’re going to get a resolve is by being tough. What does that say about our life experiences that we think it’s one extreme of the other? We feel like we are being pushed around—in a sense, bullied—by powers bigger than us. The IRS takes all our money and there’s nothing we can do about it; we get a traffic ticket and there’s no way to fight it except lose a day of work to maybe get the amount reduced; we’re sold a product that breaks just after it’s out of warranty and the company won’t do anything.
In the real world, yes, there are times when we’re just going to have to suck it up and pay the bill. That’s life. However, what if we were (I hate this word and what makes it worse is that I find myself using it more and more) mature (arghhh! I said it) and approached it from an adult (I hate that word even more) point of view? So we call up or go over whatever it is and politely ask to speak to someone. At this point, the customer service person is polite and appears ready to help us. We explain the situation and ask for a resolve. The customer service person looks at the product or receipt, looks on a computer and says, “Yes, I think we can do something about that”. You’re shocked! Boy that was easy. Or they say they can’t because ____ (fill in the blank). You, however, are undeterred. “OK”, you say, “I understand you can only do so much. Please get me your supervisor or manager”. The higher up shows up and they take care of you. Yes, this is the real world and it does happen. Not always, but often enough, especially in this economy; business is still challenging in our area and people are competing for less dollars. Most businesses want to keep you as a customer and as long as you don’t ask for the moon, they’ll typically do something to accommodate you, especially if you have names and dates.
The self-esteem issue that is involved here is self-respect, of course. Do I deserve to get what I pay for? Yes, you do. This is standing up for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a guns-blazing, take-no-prisoners scenario. People who do this are pretty much trying to compensate for their lack of self-esteem. I don’t deserve to be taken care of but I should be so I’m going to force it. You don’t have to. You just have to develop enough respect for yourself to get your due. When you feel this way about yourself, then it’s just a matter of asking. Conversely, if you feel good about yourself, then you will good enough to be honest and say, you know, I really kind of broke it or it was out of warranty but maybe they can do something anyway, or steer me to a solution or get the part, or something. You see, most people feel good when they help a fellow human being and that human being is grateful. You’ve made their day by being appreciative that they helped you. Everybody kind of wins.
So what about vulgarity? You are pissed and you are going to terrify them into helping you by cursing. They’ve bullied you now you’re going to bully them back by using, oh, colorful metaphors, Anglo-Saxon words, whatever.
On the one hand, it’s freedom of speech; on the other, well, they don’t call them vulgarities for nothing! So here’s my take, do with it as you will. There are tons of words in the English language. Someone once told me, quoting a post-graduate English professor, that there’s no such thing as a synonym because otherwise, we wouldn’t need to have all those different words.
The problem is that once you start using those words, the issue becomes about you using those words, not the original problem. Now those people who you are trying to get to help you and may indeed have been at a disadvantage because you are in the right are using your vulgarity to make you wrong. Instead of being about the product or service, the problem is now that some boor is cursing at them and the main issue gets lost. And you’ve lost as they tell you to take your cursing elsewhere.
If you can express yourself using all those wonderful descriptive words, that makes you sound intelligent. When you sound intelligent, you are more credible. When you are more credible, you have an advantage. In fact, your use of these words may even intimidate someone who doesn’t have the same command of the English language that you do!