Daily Herald August 31, 1991
Life is not perfect or always peaceful. Despite how skilled you may be at getting along with others, some people in your neighbourhood, at your job, in organizations you belong to, or in your own family will be difficult to get along with. They may be irritating, frustrating or aggressive. At times you may feel they're shooting at you and sending bullets your way. When facing this "flack" you have four choices. You can bite the bullet. You can fight the bullet. You can deflect the bullet. Or, you can dodge the bullet.
When you bite the bullet, you accept what is happening and consciously choose to do nothing about it. This is often a useful way of coping. Whenever somebody does something or says something that offends you, ask yourself, "Is it worth getting upset about?" The answer will often be "No". If you overlook some peoples' behaviors, those behaviors may stop on their own. The purpose of most behaviour is to get attention. If no attention is received, there's not much point in continuing that behaviour.
Dodging bullets is generally a weak, defensive maneuver. But if someone is upset and is making extreme or ridiculous comments, dodging can be a useful technique in the short term. Perhaps you can't bite the bullet, and totally ignore what the person is saying or doing. But if you don't respond to them, at least for a while, things may calm down on their own.
Fighting the bullet means challenging and confronting the other person. This usually helps if the person's behavior is abusive or destructive. But fighting the bullet needs to be a purposeful decision. You may make a bad situation, only worse, if you react without sizing up the situation, or whether it's suitable to fight back at that moment.
Deflecting the bullet may be an effective way to respond at times. You don't try to stop the bullet. Rather you divert it so it doesn't do as much damage. You acknowledge the other person's feelings, but you refuse to be held responsible for their feelings. Also, you remain flexible, to a degree, but don't give in completely to someone's demands on you.
You're in charge of whether or not you shoot bullets at others. You can't control how they behave towards you. However, you can control how you respond to them. Think about some upsets and irritations you received from others recently. How did you respond? Did you bite, dodge, fight or deflect the bullet? What happened? What might have happened if you had used a different strategy? People tend to repeat their irritating or aggravating behaviors towards you, again, and again. You can't predict exactly when the next bullet is going to come. But, you know it's going to come. And I'm sure you have a good idea of from whom it is going to come, and what it will be about.
Use this knowledge about coping with bullets, to plan what you'll do, the next time you come under attack. The more you plan your defense, the better you will take care of yourself.