"DOING THE MARTYR THING"
That's what we call it in our family, "doing martyr." You know what I mean. We all do it. Some of us more than others, of course... You can hear it; it's usually a sort of tired, slightly whiney voice that ends in a little sigh and says, "That's okay. Don't worry about me. You go ahead. I'll clean all this up..." Or, "If I could just sit down for five minutes..." Or, "So I guess I'm gonna be the one to work all weekend, right?" Or, "I know you didn't mean to. I'll probably only have a slight limp..."
I was standing in our local deli last week and a woman, obviously a regular, put her hand up like a traffic cop and said - apropos of nothing - to the guy behind the counter, "How am I?! Don't ask!" "Wow," I said to myself, "What an upper..."
"Doing martyr" is akin to another "I'm so put upon" attitude which our family calls, "Doing bitchy polite." It's when somebody tells you, they're sorry but they're running late and they won't be able to drive you to the train and you say smiling, but with slightly more than a hint of sarcasm, "Fine! Nooo problem!! Don't think another thing about it. I'll hitch...Whatever."
"Oh, she's just doing martyr" one of us will say within earshot of the martyr.. "Leave her alone." Or, "Can you just take that from the top? I know you can make it just a little bit bitchier."
But here's the thing. It's funny but it's not. You can make the people around you or even your team at work, feel guilty or sorry for you (which is usually our aim...) But actually, that's not good. First, it kills the positive energy in the room. Second, it makes you look like the "bad" guy, not the "good" one. Third, you come across like a humorless wimp, not a really good sport.
I'm not recommending that any of us allow ourselves to be taken wholesale advantage of or be the "good ol' person" who's willing to be the constant drudge. But a little humor, a little flexibility, a little shrug and a "Hey, I get it, no problem.." response can make you nothing short of winsome. Or at least, owed. No, I'm kidding ( sort of) but banking a little goodwill is a good thing.
Last night, our Golden Retriever, Willa was lying, sprawled in the middle of the kitchen floor as Jim was trying to take a huge platter of just grilled veal chops in one hand and a large bowl of pasta in the other - into the dining room. "Don't move!" he said sarcastically as he stepped over her, barely balancing his load. Willa thumped her tail once but didn't move. She never falls for the martyr thing..
"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed.” – Winston Churchill
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