There seems to be an abundance of anger in the news. As a specialist in this area, I’ve been interviewed hundreds of times on radio and TV. Most interviews run smoothly.

One particular radio show was live and welcomed call-ins.

The first caller greeted me with “Hi, Toots. Are you hot?” I hesitated before inquiring, “Are you speaking to me?” “Yeah,” he replied. I respectfully requested that he refer to me by my name. “Do you have a question about anger?” I asked. He repeated, “Are you hot?” I reiterated my initial response. There was no reply.

The second caller questioned my political views. I asked if he had a question concerning anger. “I don’t like [the opposing party’s] policies on gun control!” he stated angrily. I responded, “If your position differs, voice your concerns and do what you can to legislate for the change you are seeking. Channel your anger into something constructive.” I wondered where this interview was going.

“What’s your bra size?” the next caller blurted out. “I’m not going to answer that question,” I replied firmly. “Do you have a question about anger?” Like a carbonated beverage, he repeated himself. Not missing a beat, so did I. Perhaps the listeners had missed the objective of that program: to seek information and guidance on the subject of anger.

The final caller did not disappoint. However, rather than query me, he made a rather presumptuous assessment: “Nobody could be that nice all the time! You sound like the ‘B’ word with a capital B!” I wasn’t sure how he arrived at that conclusion, but his arrogance did not rattle my nerves. “I don’t know why you would say that, but actually I am this nice. Do you have an anger question I can answer?” Crickets. Then in the background I overheard someone whisper, “She’s the real deal.”

With only a few moments left, the host asked if I was polite just for that program. “No. I’m always polite.” I expressed thanks, stating that I enjoyed my time on the show. “You’re just saying that.” I assured the host of my sincerity.

How easy is it to alter our behaviors based on the actions of others – to allow another person’s conduct to change who we are? Would anybody have blamed me for replying to certain callers with a cutting remark? Doesn’t their offensive behavior give me license to act in a similar manner? But that’s not who I am. I dislike rude, disrespectful behavior. We cannot condemn someone else’s actions, mimic them, and then try to justify our own. I am a woman of integrity, dignity, kindness, and respect. I choose my actions and attitudes. They are not dictated by others.

Try as they might, the callers were unable to shake me up or rattle my nerves. I know how to let things roll off my back. Never allow anyone to compromise your values or change who you are. Always be authentic.

Never miss a headline!

Sign up to have The Jefferson Chronicle emails/breaking alerts and Print Edition sent free to your inbox. Subscribe >>