Sometimes you've just got to push back.
Okay, so we’re not saying it’s acceptable to be unfriendly to people for no reason. But as the new book F You Very Much teaches us, women who push back against thoughtless jerks are often misconstrued as being rude—and that comes with consequences. Careers can stall. Health issues can go undetected. Sex lives can suffer. (Yes, this matters.)
The bottom line? It pays to embrace your rude side every now and then, and not just because it can feel so damn satisfying. Here are three serious situations where you should always call out a disrespectful person, even if others think you're acting out of line (insert eye roll).
When a coworker keeps interrupting you in a meeting
In F You Very Much ($16, amazon.com), author Danny Wallace looks at research showing how rude behavior differs between men and women. One study he cites showed that a rude man earns 18% more than a polite woman.
Wallace writes, “Rudeness works far better for bastards than bitches, but none of this means that men are actually deep down ruder than women. What it means is that women don’t act as rudely. Why? Because the rest of us find them ‘unbecoming’ when they do.” Translation: a direct approach can leave colleagues thinking you’re bossy, while politeness can keep you out of the C-suite.
So how do you handle an interrupter of either gender? Say something like, "I'd really appreciate if you let me finish my thought here." This makes it clear that the other person was the rude one, yet you're not alright with being cut off—which can earn you major cred among your colleagues.
When your doctor doesn’t listen to you during an exam
We wish every MD was the physician of our dreams, but that’s not always the case—and anyone who’s dealt with a distracted, condescending, or dismissive doc knows it.
To be fair, it’s important to note that our overloaded medical system makes it hard for even the best doctors to spend more than a few minutes with each patient. “The time clock is a major crutch for doctor-patient relationships with both men and women,” says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, an ob-gyn at Yale School of Medicine.
Another thing that often puts a damper on your doctor's visit? The computer in the examination room. “Much of the time the care provider is communicating with the computer instead of the patient and that makes it hard to tell whether they’re actually listening to you or not," says Dr. Minkin.
That said, if your doctor is blatantly blowing off symptoms, not paying attention to you, or cutting you off, it’s time to speak up. “You can say to the provider, ‘I don’t think I made myself clear [about my symptoms]. Let me explain this better for you so you understand my concerns,’” suggests Dr. Minkin. When it comes to your health, demanding answers is a-ok.
When you’re having so-so sex
It’s pretty much a no-brainer that getting what you want between the sheets requires communication. The catch? “One major misconception a man might have is that if his partner is making requests, she is difficult to pleasure when it fact she’s usually just trying to make the experience a rewarding one,” says Stephen Snyder, MD, a New York City-based sex therapist and author of Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Term Relationship ($27, amazon.com).
Yet the benefits of being assertive during sex are huge. “First, you have more chance of getting what you want,” says Dr. Snyder. “Second, you’re more likely to feel like the relationship can accommodate you fully, without you having to withhold some part of yourself.”
So if your partner's moves just aren't doing it for you, and you've tried telling him what you want, make it super clear by taking the bull by the horns, so to speak. During the action, grab his hand and assertively put it where you want him to touch you. Or use both your hands to redirect his head or his butt, so he's in the exact position you want. A sex-positive partner will be glad you were so bold, and that you cared less about being polite and more about your pleasure.