Before I continue spraying you with some Droplets of universal, time-enduring, and self-evident principles, please pause with me for a while…let’s do a little pondering about this last droplet of insight from chapter 2.
“Use what language you will, you can never say anything but what you are.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Many times for many years different sorts of people share with me their pain of being verbally attacked by other people, of being victims of character assassination, of being bad-mouthed by unprofessional enemies. Just recently I received a message from a friend who has been a victim of non-stop character assassination attempt by bitter people who envy her. In a previous post, “Educated to Criticize?” I also shared the story of two people from two different situations who had been victims of bad-mouthing by professional people. I understand their feeling because I myself endured many verbal attacks as well.
At first, I was also hurt, but when I gradually started to realize the truth in Emerson’s words, I also gradually realized that the people who bad-mouth me are not really revealing things about me; in every word they say against me, they are actually revealing tons of information about themselves, they are in effect, displaying and demonstrating their own character, they’re showing the world who they really are at their core being. They are simply manifesting what kind of people they are. They are broadcasting to the entire world that they are people who cannot be trusted, that they are unprofessional and disrespectful. They are telling everybody that they are pitifully so consumed by their own arrogance and bitterness blended together to make them so helplessly unable to get past their pains.
Let’s clarify. Who do the attacking? What kind of people are they who engage in character assassination attacks against another person? What kind of character do they posses? Is bad-mouthing or is engaging in character assassination the choice of avenue of a man of character when dealing with somebody he doesn’t agree with? How would a man of integrity deals with someone he is in conflict with?
Pretty obvious, isn’t it? But we always miss it. How often do we attack other people without realizing this truth? How often do we criticize other people without realizing that every time we bad-mouth them we are telling the world what kind of character we have. When we attack other people, we are showing the world what we are made of. The words we use against other people are simply a description of who we are at our deepest core being.
I like how John C. Maxwell puts it in the very first chapter of his book, Winning With People. He said,
“Who you are determines the way you see everything. You cannot separate your identity from your perspective. All that you are and every experience you’ve had color how you see things. It is your lens.”
I believe that’s true. In my photo blog, “Point of View” I have chosen that paradigm as my tagline to point out that different people see different things within the same environment. We see things according to who we are. The things that our eyes see around us are just expressions of who we are, and so are the words that come out of our mouth.
You see, every time a person bad-mouths you, stand still, keep intact…because that person is not destroying you; that person is obviously destroying himself unawares. Because he is revealing to others how untrustworthy, how unprofessional, and how incapable he is in soothing his own bitterness. And no body wants to be with people like that.
Isn’t it good to be reminded that it is better for us to be the target of character assassination than to be the one who does the bad-mouthing? Of course we need to survive our own character by keeping our values intact when dealing with personal attacks, lest we become one of them.
When you are being attacked unprofessionally by others, just don’t forget this truth:
The first person being destroyed in a character assassination attack is the assassin himself. He’s just not aware of it. Bad-mouthing is a suicide mission: it destroys the source of criticism in the process rather than the one being criticized.