Why You Shouldn’t Retaliate Against Someone’s Irrational Negativity

If you’re honest with your own self analysis, you’d likely agree that you’ve judged people prior to really getting to know them.

You likely then went on to gauge how to act around that individual based on the uneducated (and unfair) judgments you made of them. 

As we catch slivers of others’ socially unattractive, off putting qualities and expressions, we can go on to rudely, and misguidedly, misact around them. We can jump to conclusions regarding the nature of their character based on something they said. We can go on to morph our own character for the worse because they said it. 

This article is about you being the victim of, perhaps hateful, misjudgments – and how to conduct yourself in the face of them. 


They Hate the Version of You Which Reciprocates

It seems that our premature disdain for certain individuals is a sort of attempt to beat them to the punch. When we, perhaps irrationally, dislike somebody, we tend to believe that we wouldn’t mesh with that individual if we held off our judgments a little longer. 

We perceive such individuals to be jerks, narcissists, and annoying beings. Those who dislike us anticipate to not get along with us anyway. They perceive us to not mesh with them on a social and personal level. 

If you were looking to combat their premature way of considering you to be an individual worth disliking off the bat, then reciprocating their hatred would be an ineffective approach. 

The fact is that those who prematurely judge us to be bad people are doing so subjectively; without a sizeable collection of evidence. Though they may have limited evidence for their beliefs, that evidence would be limited and subjected to sampling bias. 

By reciprocating their hateful behavior with negativity of your own, you’d be giving them tangible reasons to be correct in their assumptions of your character. Even if your negativity as a counter still doesn’t justify their initial irrational hatred, they’d be on their way to proving themselves right. 

Though you may prove their initial judgments wrong by reacting forcefully, you’d simply substitute the reasons for why these individuals dislike you for new ones. You wouldn’t prove them wrong as much as you would guide them toward a more rational position.

The actual character you show those who misjudge your character wouldn’t be favorable by reciprocating their misjudgments. From a simply emotional perspective, you’d come closer to proving those who irrationally hate you right than wrong.   


“I Told You So,” Is More Effective Than, “I Was Defending Myself”

You’re seldom in a silo when dealing with those who irrationally misjudge you in life. Having to witness their irrational acts will be a happening which is sprinkled on to your experiences at work, school, or at a social event. Others will be witnesses to the friction between yourself and the people who dislike your being. 

In thinking about influencing the perspectives of such onlookers, a conclusion one comes to is that it is often best to leave negativity to marinate in its own bitter juices. 

As the stench of someone’s undeserved negativity toward you diffuses throughout the room, it becomes more noticeable to those amidst it. They will follow that stench back to its original source, and will form deserved judgments about the person who acts unfairly negative toward you.

Your reciprocation to these misguided, hateful, individuals will act as a new signal in response to the old. It will be fresher, newer, and more noticeable.

Responses are guaranteed the attention of those who noticed what you’re responding to prior. However, retaliations also have a risk of attracting the attention of those who did not notice the initial hateful acts committed toward you. The individuals whose attention you first attract with a response to someone’s negativity will consider you to be the source of that negativity. 

That social position will not only put you on the spot to explain yourself, but will provide validity to those who may who have been sending that initial negativity your way. The opportunistic will jump on the chance to paint themselves to be right in their initial analysis of you. They’ll be proud of their early labels of you being negative, nasty, and not worth befriending. 

Your acts of justifying your reciprocal negativity by citing the negativity you felt from others prior will not completely swindle those who only saw your response and not what you were responding to. A spiteful defense is not a good look when people didn’t see what you’re defending against. 

The correct thing to do seems to allow the people who irrationally act negatively toward you to spread their negative stench themselves. Trust the lack of reason behind their actions to draw attention to their jagged abrasions across the social fabric of the room. 


Viewing Confrontations As Competitions

If you view social confrontations as competitions, then know that the only way to win them is to avoid them. It takes two parties to have a confrontation, or any sort of fight. If you rescind your participation, you have not lost. This is an important thing to remember. If you refuse to participate in a confrontation, it does not mean you’ve lost the battle.

The act of winning has a changing definition depending on who you ask. There will be people in life who claim they won against you in a multitude of competitions you were not aware you were a part of. 

People can create competition out of thin air. We are competitive when we drive down the street, stand at the grocery store line, and mingle with our colleagues.

Competition knows no bounds, and you will be thrust into many senseless competitions if you do not learn to ignore the invitations to compete. These invitations can be in a form of weaselly moves, backstabbing attacks, and reputation-ruining gossip. Invitations of all sorts will entice you to retaliate.

Retaliation on your end is an acceptance of an invitation to compete. 

This competition can be in the form of a fight, or a legal battle. It can also manifest itself as a backstabbing battle of whose gossip can cause more damage.

The acceptance to compete always comes from the person who retaliates. The one who retaliates is also at a disadvantage to begin that competition. When you retaliate, you give your opponent acknowledgement that what they said or did may be true enough to warrant a retaliation. Even if you blatantly disprove their attacks toward you, their competitive juices will motivate them to keep attacking. Their attacks will keep become better at enticing you to retaliate.


Defending Yourself and Retaliating Are Different Things

When analyzing a decision to retaliate from a perspective of controlling the situation at hand, it can seem to be a good idea to retaliate in hopes of stopping the malice coming your way. Remember though, the act of defending, and the act of retaliating are different things. 

Retaliation doesn’t just seek to defend, it seeks to inflict pain back. In your effort to retaliate, the pain you inflict back will not simply be absorbed. If you find it difficult to resist retaliating, so will the person you’re retaliating against. You will undoubtedly ensure the dominoes continue falling, and the attacks coming from others will become increasingly difficult to avoid retaliating against. 

Absorb attacks which call for retaliation but keep an astute eye on where defense is required. If retaliation is your first instinct in response to somebody’s jab at something you say or do, then practice diverting that desire to one of simply defending yourself and those close to you but not inflicting pain back

Let the events play out and analyze the people jabbing at, or making accusations toward you. If they are right and you are wrong, admit it quickly and move on. Take your loss when it is deserved.

If they are wrong and irrational in their accusations, your reciprocal offensive action is not warranted.  React defensively and seek to only address falsehoods once. If they continue to attack and fight for what they think is right, then seek to let a third party make its judgement on the facts. A retaliation on your part will lower a third party’s chances of siding with you. 

Do not retaliate, keep calm, defend yourself once, then outsource further defending and judgment to a third party. Do not emulate the hate of the world around you in an effort to stop it. It is not the fault of your attacker for transforming into a hateful being. Pity them, and perceive them as a victim rather than someone who can legitimately cause damage to your experience.

Next in line: 

Why Silence / Ignoring Is a Powerful Psychological Warfare Tool


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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims. Please critically analyze all claims made and independently decide on its validity.