Not too long ago I was told that I was perceived as passive. Most people who know me will probably be surprised to hear this, but I wasn’t that surprised because I had been passive on purpose.
If you’re in a dangerous situation, one line of defense is to limit exposure. Someone can’t attack what they can’t see. This works in situations that are figuratively dangerous as well. If you hide your motives and desires, no one can attack them.
Years ago I had a difficult friend (who has starred in a previous post). Eventually it came time to part ways, but the friend wasn’t happy about it. Things got ugly, partly because I tried to explain myself and did so badly. Some years later we briefly reconciled, but then eventually, the things that had made friendship impossible the first time came back around. For those who like details, the things were lying, putting me down to build herself up, and just generally being insufferable company because she wanted to always be the center of attention and would act out to get that attention if it wasn’t naturally forthcoming. As the kids say, ain’t no one got time for that.
The good news is that this time I knew better than to try to explain myself, because I realized that in explaining myself I was sharing too much information – information that could then be thrown back at me, and turned into fodder for argument. So, learned the method of stealth Teflon. Don’t give the person anything to grab onto and they won’t have anything to argue with, or use as a way to climb back into your life. I learned to present a glossy surface, with no handholds or chinks.
I don’t have to use this method very often any more, because now I have better taste in friends and don’t have to fend off emotional vampires, but it still comes in handy in day to day life.
For the most part I like my coworkers, but I don’t agree with all of them. That’s life, and I don’t proselytize, mostly because I think it’s pointless. But sometimes others want to proselytize at me, or demand to know why I do what I do, so they can tell me why I’m wrong. It is in these situations where the Teflon approach can save the day. No one can argue with bland pleasantness, or if they do, they’ll look like they’re arguing with themselves.