Let’s suppose you’re going about your business, trying to do something nice for a friend/loved one/relative who needed help, when suddenly they get mad at you.
You’re blameless, of course.
You try to defend yourself, but the other person grows increasingly hostile, accusatory, and paranoid, so you attempt to deescalate by leaving.
They call you to “work things out,” but your attempts to explain your side don’t work and they get mad and start insulting you, ranting about other relatives, and dredging up old grudges and grievances going back a decade or two.
At this point, do you respond by calling them a childish jerk who throws a temper tantrum when they don’t get their way, or do you attempt to take the high road, responding as well as you can to the substance of their complaint?
Note that this is someone whom you care about and will be seeing again, so just telling them to “fuck off and die” isn’t an option.
If you turn on the insults, there’s the possibility that they will just say, “See, I knew you were the kind of person who says hurtful things!” and your relationship will be further damaged. But if you take the high road, there’s the chance that they will think their behavior was justified, or not realize just how entirely out of line you think they are.
Now, we can all come up with high-falutin’ philosophy–and philosophy tends to come up with, “Always take the high road.”
But does that actually work?