I'm not sure who exactly introduced me to the aphorism that "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar," but I'd like to wax on the topic a bit. (I could make a beeswax joke there but I'll refrain from doing so.) Putting aside for the moment the question of why in God's name anyone would want to catch flies as opposed to swatting, killing or repelling them, I'd like to question the moral of this little story- that being nice is the best way to get your point across in a persuasive way.
Now, as I've stated before, being nice is not counter to being Badass and being Badass doesn't necessarily mean being nasty. I was recently involved in a conversation about some work stuff and it got, well, heated. It got really heated. It involved me and my work and my space and I got more than heated- I got pissed. I made my first "hell no" flat refusal of my professional career. I didn't want to discuss, I didn't want to explore other options, I didn't want to help solve the problem because I didn't create the problem. I was just. not. interested. And I was really vehement about it.
My colleagues in the meeting sat, slack-jawed and perplexed, listening to rant and behave in a very not-me manner and they looked, well, bumfuzzled. Finally, one man (the room contained 4 men and me) said in a sort of amused voice, "I'm sort of surprised at your energy around this." Another chimed in with a similar sentiment and a third added his reasoning for why I should welcome this difficult, inconvenient thing being proposed.
At that moment, I realized that they had expected to me to be all "honey" in this situation. I'm usually considered collaborative (which I've come to recognize as sometimes-code for "easy to convince" and "willing to give in"). I go the extra mile to support my colleagues, I don't mind doing a little more work if it's going to help someone else out. I usually am honey. I was raised to be sweet and accommodating and- above all- nice. My sudden shift to vinegar- largely the result of being tired of being kicked in the ass over and over again- shocked them. They didn't know what to do with me and their instinctive response- amusement and a hint of "Isn't this cute? Look how worked up she's getting!"- got them a snarl and a "You like it so much? You do it, then. 'Cause there's no fucking way I'm going to."
I noticed that this group of folks seemed more wary of me later. It was as though they'd discovered their cute puppy had a hint of pit bull in its pedigree. At a later meeting on the same topic, I noticed my colleagues watching me in their peripheral vision as though I were an undetonated grenade in the middle of the room. (I didn't explode, in case you were wondering, which I think was equally frightening.)
The moral of my little story, then, is that honey is nice, but it's sticky and its use for may adhere labels to its user (like "easy to roll over" and "always willing to take one for the team"). Vinegar on the other hand, tends to clean that sticky mess right off, leaving a sparkling new view in its wake.
Badass is about the freedom to be either honey or vinegar- or both- depending on the circumstances.