The He Said/She Said Incident

I am on the track team at my high school. I try really hard doing hurdles and I help the newer people with them. I have good form but I’m slow and don’t win my races (this isn’t about that it’s just background information). There is a guy who just started doing hurdles a few days before a race. I try to help him because he doesn’t have a very good form. I never say anything bad about him just that he needs to work on his trail leg. My friend over heard him and this girl talking about me. The girl said that I have talked behind his back, but I haven’t. They also called me a loser for never winning my races. I try harder than anyone that does hurdles, and I’m getting better at them. My mom said to talk to the coaches but I know they won’t do anything about it because those two people are some of the “star” runners. I don’t know what to do, please help.

-DogAteMyCrayons
 Dear DogAteMyCrayons,
It sounds like there’s a lot to deal with here, and I’m sorry you’re going through this. Here’s my take:
1. Second-hand information: The fact that your friend over heard the conversation in which they talked bad about you means that it’s second-hand information. You weren’t there, but she was, and then she told you about it. Sometimes things can be misunderstood when they are over heard. It doesn’t sound like that’s the case, but when you are going with what someone said about someone else talking about you, that can create a tangled web of he said/she said. Try cutting out the middle person (your friend) and go straight to the sources with one-on-one conversations. Pull the guy aside and explain to him what you heard and that you didn’t say anything bad about him. Talk to the girl alone too, and ask her if she said anything about you. A lot of times people will deny ever having said anything because it’s uncomfortable, but asking them directly in a calm manner (staying calm is key to getting your message across) shows them that you don’t want anymore drama, you are trying to prevent any more miscommunication, and you aren’t the type to make it into an even bigger ordeal. Remember that it’s more about getting past this issue than trying to prove who said what.
2. If you can’t confront them alone: If the idea of talking to those two is too much for you to handle, then go to the coach first. I know your mom already suggested that and you didn’t want to go that route, but the coach may surprise you. If you really don’t want to go to the coach, is there an assistant coach or a school counselor that you might feel more comfortable talking to instead? Maybe that adult could act as a mediator so that the three of you can talk it out with that outside adult there to listen and help you all get on better terms. I’m not saying you’ll all end up being best friends or anything, but it sounds like you really want the drama to stop, so you have to face this one way or another. Whatever you decide to do, don’t ask your friend to come along to talk to them because that may come off as you two against one of them, which is exactly why it’s best for you to talk to the two of them separately. You don’t want to feel ganged up on, nor do they. That will only increase the drama.
3. Asking for help: If you are able to talk to them separately but both convos go horribly, go to the coach or another trusted adult and tell him/her what happened and how you tried to deal with it. Then see if he/she can help as a mediator to talk through things.
4. If this is a recurring issue: The fact that you heard that these two called you a loser is terrible and leads me to wonder if maybe this isn’t the first time you’ve had issues with them. If this has been an ongoing problem where they have put you or others down multiple times (the B word–bully comes to mind), then it’s better to go straight to an adult who can speak with them rather than confronting them on your own.
5. Favoritism: I know that sometimes people have favorites, and that sports stars or star students can seem perfect to some adults. Then when they hear that those stars did something wrong they may not want to believe it at first, but you have to try. Explain the situation with as much detail as possible, saying exactly what happened and how it made you feel. If there’s anything that you may have done wrong at any point, be honest about that too so that the coach, assistant coach, or school counselor sees that you are able to look at the situation clearly rather than you saying you’re an angel and they’re evil. If you really haven’t made any mistakes in this situation, say that you know how good they are at the sport but that you also know about the importance of being a team player or showing good sportsmanship (I’m hoping your coach has mentioned this as most do). That angle could help you get through to him/her so that the problem is recognized.
6. When people put you down: Hearing that someone called you a loser sucks. There’s no way around that. But, name-calling is ridiculously childish. If they are already doing so well in track, why would they feel the need to put one of their teammates down? Maybe they have confidence issues of their own in a different way, or they say these things without thinking because gossip is a way to connect with others. Either way, it’s unfortunate but it will catch up with them. Keep working hard at track and you will improve. Your work ethic will pay off not just in track, but in life. Unfortunately, drama does not stop when you’re handed your high school diploma. There will always be he said/she said situations, but it’s how you deal with them that counts. Keep doing your thing, recognizing your efforts and accomplishments and when drama arises, try to go straight to the source, keep your cool, and talk it out. If that doesn’t work, involve an adult as a mediator to help increase communication and decrease drama.
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2 thoughts on “The He Said/She Said Incident

    1. Thanks Margaret! Feel free to chime in on any posts if you have a different perspective. It’s all about providing a different take from an outsider to help teens feel supported.

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