“You and Your Values!” the woman said haughtily. She was responding to my differing opinion on a topic we both hold dear to our hearts. It offended me because (1) I’m pretty clear about what I value and (2) I really try to live by my values every day. So criticizing my values was striking at the core of me. I don’t mind disagreeing with another person but I do mind – seriously mind – someone trying to make me feel that my values are substandard because they don’t match hers.
Here’s the thing: Anyone who criticizes you for what you believe, what you value, is a bully.
Here’s something else: Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. The woman who was bullying me lives by what I call a sliding scale when it comes to values. She’ll talk about conservation for the masses but run the dishwasher with a half-full load. She’ll renege on an agreement if she thinks she can get a better deal.
The conversation I described above happened a couple years ago. It got me thinking that maybe she needed to find her way out of my life. After all, why should I do anything less than surround myself with people who reflect my values and, if they don’t, can respect that we don’t share all the same values. We can agree to disagree without being demeaning or denigrating.
People who bully are toxic because they are hell-bent on making you feel that there is something wrong with you. But if you don’t know what you value, you are likely to go along to get along. Then you can be led down any path and if you aren’t leading yourself, someone is most likely taking you in a direction you won’t be happy with in the end. It’s the old adage, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”