You Have Every Right Not to Talk to Them

monsterI’m a very polite person. This has been my downfall. When someone asks me a question, I answer. When the phone rings, I pick it up. (A bad habit I learned when I worked at a call center!)

But years ago answering the phone from one particular person increasingly caused me nothing but pain. They’d tell me what I should do and how I should do it. They’d rant. I’d listen. I would get frustrated. It felt like I was being held hostage.

Nothing I said made any difference.

Until one day I decided I could no longer handle the discussion. I’d had enough. However, for reasons I can’t go into publicly, it was important I still communicated with them. I couldn’t afford to cut off all contact.

So the next time they called, I made my big announcement. “I will no longer accept phone calls from you. You aren’t able to be respectful. We can’t engage in a civil discussion. I no longer wish to communicate with you by phone.”

Well, there was a lot of spittin’ and sputterin’ on the other end of that line! “Well, you HAVE to talk to me,” they said.

I said, “No, I don’t. I don’t have to accept your phone calls any more. I will accept a letter. You can write to me as often as you wish. But no more phone calls until you learn how to be respectful.”

So that’s the way it went. I took control. The weight lifted off my shoulders was enormous. ENORMOUS! It was a huge relief to set boundaries I could live with – to clearly state what I would accept and what I wouldn’t.

Over time, this person simmered down. I began to look around for other situations I could regain control over. (Bwahahaha!)

Life became a little bit brighter in my corner of the world!

Is there someone in your world who’s disrespectful? How have you handled it?


  1. I have to laugh at your evil laugh, but also at the fact that I am reading this today. I just had a similar conversation with an acquaintance. This person didn’t hassle me over the phone but on FB. I met bumped into him today and asked about his snarky comments left on my posts. We will see how this turns out. Hopefully I can have the last Bwahahaha too!

    • LJBenjamin says:

      Mia, it will be interesting to see if he “cools his jets” a bit since you called him on it. Good for you! Bwahahaha!

  2. Interesting timing, Laura! I just posted on LinkedIn this AM about a similar topic of how message boards have become the new cyber bullying tool for adults–Full of disrespectful people providing sarcasm and rudeness instead of helpful advice. I find myself shaking my head often and muttering, “What is wrong with people these days?” I’m glad you took control of your situation and are sharing with others that it is OK to do so! The difference with online harassment is that we can always hit the DELETE key or unsubscribe! Thank Goodness!

    • LJBenjamin says:

      Hi Cindy! Yes, I think people take advantage of the anonymous nature of the online world to hide and throw their weight around. It’s usually such a different story when they are face to face. What people don’t realize is that this behavior becomes a habit and will sneak into their relationships in insidious ways. Before they know it, they have become a totally different person. Self management skills are so important! Thanks for commenting!

  3. Read an interesting quote recently “Not everyone is entitled to be a part of your future”.
    I had an incident where a person insulted me personally and professionally and then followed up with emails never apologizing and indicating he was right. After the second very long email I consulted with 2 psychology friends and both agreed that the emails were on the edge of harassment. I told (via email) this person never to contact me again. On a subsequent personal encounter with others present his body language was threatening and I let him know that his “colors” had been shown and any further conversation would be considered harassment and authorities would be involved. Haven’t heard from him since. Definitely not one that I want in my future.
    Stick with the positive folks that are helping you move forward!!

    • LJBenjamin says:

      Bill, I love that quote. It is so true! Sounds like you handled your difficult person with just the right amount of assertiveness. Thank goodness he took you seriously and stopped the harassment! Thank you for your comment! We can all learn from situations like this.