Are you good
at being deferent?
Yesterday, xoJane writer/editor (and “News Whore” podcaster) Mandy Stadtmiller wrote an interesting post about the subject of deference. It’s one of those social realities we all have to deal with–constantly figuring out when we’re supposed to show it and when we should be shown it.
Sometimes it’s easy. Certain people command our respect and it seems fair and righteous to give it to them, but (probably more) often we are faced with people who demand our respect and that’s a very different thing entirely.
Chances are you know or worked for someone who’s like this. I once worked for a man who got off on telling outrageous aggrandizing lies about himself, just so he could watch us all nod our heads and pretend they were true–too concerned with our paycheques to ever call him on his bullshit.
Experiences like this have caused me to defensively go silent in situations where I’m faced with someone who expects me to show them a level of respect I feel they haven’t actually earned. It’s not fear or intimidation that cows me, but genuine shock that someone could possess such an ego that they would ever expect that sort of treatment. It fills me with pity as I wonder what happened to them that left such big holes they need to have filled.
Deference, ultimately, is a gift and like all gifts it feels good to give it when it allows you to feel kind and generous, but it’s hard not to resent it when you’ve been ordered to hand it over. It’s the difference between offering to buy dinner for a friend and having them run out of the restaurant while you’re in the restroom. The first allows you to feel benevolent and important, while the second leaves you feeling like a sucker who needs to find other people to hang out with.
How do you deal with deference? Does it come naturally to you or is it something you have to struggle with?
Photo courtesy of José Manuel Ríos Valiente.