Accidental Fierceness

Went to the airport for dessert after cellgroup on Wednesday. While queuing up near the entrance of the toilet, a middle-aged woman in her 40s & an elderly woman in (probably) her 60s walked in, and walked right past me. I stared at the 2 women and wondered if i should just let them cut my queue… had it just been the elderly woman, i probably would have closed an eye… but i was quite annoyed with the middle-aged lady!Just then, the cubicle door in front of the middle-aged woman opened & she was about to walk in when i blurted out in Chinese, “Wah! No need to queue up uh?”. The hostility in my voice surprised even myself.

The middle-aged woman looked at me in surprise & turned to look at the elderly woman. The elderly woman told her to go ahead. That puzzled me a bit but I ignored their exchange & made my way towards the opened door. The middle-aged woman then said to me, “I was here first”.

Instinctively, i turned to her and replied, “I was queuing up over there (gestured towards the door) when you came in.” Again, my tone was curt & harsh. I could also feel my eyes widening in aggression & glaring at the woman.

She took a step in retreat & apologized hastily. Wow. I must’ve looked really fierce. It’s not everyday that one successfully cower aunties into submission. Hehe. Didn’t mean to & certainly didn’t feel that much malice towards her but i didn’t apologize. I mean since i’ve chosen to assert my right, no point being apologetic about it right?

Thinking about the incident now reminds me once again that i sometimes lack nuances in my tone & expressions… which has always been my problem in leading a team of people. I either become too soft, or too harsh when enforcing rules & guidelines. Just like what i wrote about being too blunt & blatant in expressing my displeasure about people on my blog, words often escape my mouth (or keyboard) before i have time to soften them.

It is really not easy to exert your right gently. The easy way out would be to give it up (but that may not be the right way either) or bulldoze people over. It is easier to achieve a balance at work ‘cos one can just maintain a distant “professional” stance but among friends? That’s the toughest part. Sometimes i force myself to suppress my unhappiness & feelings of betrayal. “For the greater good” i tell myself. But that is a lie too ‘cos ultimately, the unhappiness will gnaw away at the friendship & once too much time has lapsed, that friendship is also gone.

Have you lost any friends this way?

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February 2006