(And 3 ways to teach people their lesson the hard way.)
Society puts a lot of pressure on us to "take the high road" when someone wrongs us. We're supposed to turn the other cheek, tell them we're not going to get even because we're better than them, and just go about our daily lives without them in the picture.
Taking the high road doesn't mean forgiving them, nor does it mean keeping them in the picture. What it means is not retaliating — and that's a difference many people don't understand.
In most situations, taking the high road is commendable and will actually make things turn out better for you. It's a classy way to handle things and it's often the best choice in a professional setting.
Unfortunately, if there's something I've learned, it's that taking the high road is not the answer to everything.
Here's the problem with taking the high road all the time: some people assume it's a sign they've "won." Others may assume that since nothing bad ever came of it, they can still do bad things to you and other people. When you're dealing with people who actively hurt you or did something insane to try to control you, taking the high road is basically putting yourself and others at risk for their bad behavior.
Taking the high road only works if the person you're dealing with has morals and ethics that match yours. Some people need consequences in order to learn a lesson and taking the high road removes those consequences.
Others will just assume that you're OK with being taken advantage of and treated like garbage if you don't retaliate. With these folks, you need to get even and make sure they feel the brunt of their damage. Otherwise, they'll hurt more people and possibly continue to hurt you.
The trick to getting even is to know how to do it in a classy, effective way that doesn't necessarily hurt you in the long run. Here are some of the best ways to deal with people who don't understand the idea of taking the high road.
1. Put them on blast.
If there's one thing people can't stand, it's being put on blast and outed for the crap they've done. People often need to feel like they are the good guy, even when they know what they did was pretty gross or bad. They need “positive press” or at least silence in order to keep living their lives in their own way.
2. Press charges and call the police on them.
If what the person did to you wasn't completely legal, getting police involved is a smart way to make sure they learn a lesson. Even if they themselves don't end up serving time, having that stuff on their record will make their lives a lot harder and may leave a permanent imprint on them.
3. Make a point of making them uncomfortable in your presence.
This can be easy to do with people who have morals and ethics, but harder to do if you're dealing with a narcissist. The easiest way to make this happen is to give them a very cold shoulder when you are both in the presence of other people. Other people will wonder why, and that will make the narcissist VERY uncomfortable.
The bottom line is that some people need to get a kick in the teeth before they actually learn to stop being an ass. And, if you think about it, retaliating against those types is a good way to actually do right by making sure they think twice before they try that again.