Not too long ago, my friend and I were invited to a private tasting event for a popular restaurant in Orange County. Needless to say, he and I were pretty darn excited. Free food? Count us in! Upon arrival, we were greeted with a warm welcome and smiles from the staff and host who seated us right by the bar. I could say that we probably had the best view in the house since the kitchen and chefs were right in front of us. My friend was to my right, leaving a couple of empty seats to my left. Not very long after, a man walked in and filled the seat next to me. I turned over to introduce myself as I normally would and he gave me his name. I later asked him several small talk questions in order to break the ice and as it turns out, he's a senior editor for a well known food blog. He told me he has been working for the company for four years and is currently taking on a couple of other roles within the brand. Social media marketing was one of them. As an area of my expertise, I thought it'd be nice to share with him my take on food marketing strategies and so I did. However, he didn't take it too well and responded with a high pitched laugh of his. At one point, he turned the tables around and bluntly asked me, "So what are you?" Now I've received plenty of questions in my lifetime but this was one of those rare instances where I had no desire in answering such poorly constructed question.
"I'm a college graduate," I said.
He stared at me for what seemed like forever and then slowly turned his head as more of his friends started to arrive. Granted, I knew there is a time and place for everything and I wasn't about to tell this guy what's up. Under different condition and setting, I probably would have told this guy off. As a person who is a brand ambassador for his company, I was thrown off by his rude demeanor and tone of voice (I saved a couple of minor details just for the sake of not giving too much away). It took me awhile to think back about previous conversations I have had with my producers and then I realize, "Wow. These are the kind of people they've always tried to warn me about." It was very clear to me that he was a networking kinda guy so the second I said the word "college graduate," his body language took a 180 turn (literally). I never got to finish my response, but to be quite honest with you, I had absolutely zero interest in communicating with a person like that.
I've been taught in school to always live by the golden rule, which is to treat others the way I want to be treated. While I revered these kind of values, I'm also no longer a person who is unwilling to speak up for herself. However, actions speak louder than words and I'm looking forward to the day when he realizes the bridge he has burnt by making someone feel so small.
Later that night, I overheard the person talking to his fellow friends about a new marketing concept that he came up with, which sounded a lot like the discussion I had with him just moments before. I giggled a little at his lack of originality and need to share something that wasn't his to begin with. It has been awhile since I've come across a rude person, but I didn't want a person's lack of mannerism and class ruin the rest of my evening. So I did what I was extremely good at. I block out the external noise (aka his voice and obnoxious laugh) completely.
I think it's always easy to allow yourself to build animosity towards a person when they don't treat you the way you'd like to be treated. However, words and actions of a person say a lot more about them then they say about you. People are going to have their shortcomings, myself included, but at times, it's better to take the high road so that's what I did. I laughed everything off and proceed to enjoy the meticulous prepped meal with my friend.
Lesson of the day: we can't always have a say of how others will treat us, but we are in complete control over our very own conduct. So of course, the way to happiness is made much brighter by applying the precept, “Try to treat others as you would want them to treat you.” And I'm telling you...the people who treat you poorly are the same ones who will remember your name.