i learnt this trick from a reporter when i was interning at indianexpress chennai. a real rogue, and as most bad boys go, difficult to hate.
he would always be extra nice to those who are mean to him. and very friendly with those he doesn’t like. keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer, kind of mantra.
he always messed with people’s minds.
like immediately after a colleague sent off a memo against him to the big boss, he invited the guy over to his house for home cooked food.
after being pulled up by the boss, he would sing the boss’s praise, how great, how accomplished etc, etc. he would do all that without seeming like a psychophant.
and ever since then, i’ve been trying to master (mistress?) the skill. not yet a genius, but no longer a novice either.
this is what i do. when i think someone has been backstabbing me or being mean about me, i am nice and pleasant to them. sometimes even outright friendly.
when i know someone has been acting funny, i spare no effort, leave no stone unturned in proving how wonderful, kind, sensitive and nice i am. to the extent, i secretly go and puke in the loo.
but the guilt on their faces, the half confessions, the overdoing of reciprocated niceness — definitely worth the puke.
when i know someone is being mean, and they know i know, then i don’t bother. i just revert to my usual nasty persona that i reserve for the folks i’m indifferent to.
like now, i am having this huge row with x. but when x and i are in the company of others, i am all all sugar. i can see the confusion in x’s eyes.
then there was this other instance when i knew y had a problem with me, but i wouldn’t stop singing her praises to her best friend.
do i do this to be ‘loved’? no. i do it to have the upper hand. because when you are angry, suspicious, upset with someone, you only expect the worst. and when people expect the worst from you, instead of letting them feel vindicated, give them a jolt. hug them.
run that dagger gently down their spine in a caress. not to stab, but to soothe, and also to remind.
so now, how am i going to survive, having outed the secret?
that’s when the trick gets trickier — that is, if you are nice person with mean streaks and not the other way round.
no one wants to believe people are being nice to them only because they are disliked. most of our egos numb us into believing people are nice to us because we are nice.
i have often been at the receiving end of this trickery — it does screw me up somewhat, till i find a target and pay it forward. you don’t ever get used to it.
there is nothing mean or nasty about this little trick. it’s pure business sense. it’s a bit of fun. and it’s effective.
and you know what? it’s a great parenting tool too. when i know O is expecting me to scold her or lose my temper, i keep my calm and am extra sweet. that really gets her all guilty, she confesses, and is a good little child for a long time after.
love in all it’s forms — true, half-way true, faked, on the fence — will win it for you. ask harry potter if you don’t believe me.