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Defend Yourself

Be careful what you tolerate. You teach people how to treat you.

(Photo credit to I joined the U.S. Army when I was 17. I've been in 15 years and have reached the rank of staff sergeant (E-6). I currently serve active duty at Fort Bliss as Air Defense Artillery. Today just happened which is why I'm reporting on this particular incident, as opposed to others which have happened in the past. My co-workers and I were gathered around the table in the office...getting chewed out by my senior staff sergeant. SSG Joe (Named changed to protect identities) was earlier chewed out by HIS senior sergeant due to an accountability issue during morning formation, and if you've never heard the expression, shi* runs downhill, now you have, and now it was our turn. SSG Joe was furious (keep in mind, we share the same rank) but opened up the floor for all of us to ask questions. I raised my hand and asked my question, to which he answered, after a moment I raised my hand again and made another statement, to which he responded to, but the 3rd time I raised my hand, he looked at me, rolled his eyes and snapped, "Gees, NOW what?" Keep in mind, I'm in a room full of my peers and those who are junior to my rank who look up to me to be their leader, and here SSG Joe just belittled me with his words, his tone clearly letting everyone know that, "SSG Merkley, you don't matter and I don't want to listen to you anymore." Now, I had two options, to "let it slide" or address it. If I just let it roll off my back, pick my battles, turn the other cheek, then everyone in that room who heard his remark and understood his tone, would have learned a new lesson about me: that I AM to be treated that way, that I AM to be told to sit in a corner, be quiet, and don't rock the boat. Letting him get away with that would have told everyone in the room that they are welcome to treat me like that So I addressed it. Preparing for a fight, I said in a direct, clear tone, "Don't disrespect me." To my utmost surprise, SSG Joe's eyebrows shot up. He turned away from me and said, "Go ahead," in a very polite tone. Recovering from my shock at his unexpected reaction, I momentarily forgot what I had intended to say in the first place, but recovered and proceeded with my statement, which he addressed. And walking out of work afterward, my co-worker walking beside me said, "Good job defending yourself." And I thought, "Yes. People now know I am to be treated with respect." Thanks for reading.

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