Hello SOTGC community,
It is one of the unfortunate givens in life…at some point during your week, or even every day, you will encounter someone that rubs you the wrong way.
Whether you are at work, at home with your spouse, or at a restaurant, chances are that you will engage in a conversation, or even a non-verbal experience (think of the person that rolls right into a parking spot that you have been waiting for…the nerve!), that makes you want to yell out your favorite four-letter word.
The ultimate secret is this – you cannot control anyone else’s behavior but your own. This is so simple, yet such a difficult concept for many people to accept. If we understand that the only thing we do have control over is the way we react in situations, then we can choose to do so in a way that will be of help to us, and also indirectly to those with the chips on their shoulders.
Tip #1 – Don’t React
First of all, reacting is a complete waste of our energy…
Our bodies go through a whole series of automatic reactions as a result of the feelings and emotions we have, and these reactions can often weaken our immune response.
For instance, when we are angry and frustrated our bodies become tense, especially in the neck, shoulders, back, and chest (I know my chest tightness dramatically when I get irritated). We have stress hormones that begin to cascade throughout our bodies. When we say that someone or something makes our blood boil, we are not far from the truth – our body temperature rises during “heated” conversations.
What to do instead – take a deep breath (or three)…simple, yet very effective.
Tip #2 – Deflect and Diffuse
Rather than shooting daggers at a difficult person through your eyes (which appears somewhat like this glance from our First Lady), or secretly wishing them harm (which sadly a lot of people do), try this: silently send them a positive thought, or better yet, see if you can compliment them (or just say some pleasant) in some way if appropriate.
Ok, even though this may seem a bit too Zen at the time, and feel more like torture, just try it. What you will find is that the anger or frustration inside of you will weaken (think self-preservation). This takes practice, but is extremely effective the more you do it.
Tip #3 – Let…it…go
When you choose to hold on to any difficult conversation or interaction, the only person you are hurting is yourself. Do your best to let it pass.
If you need to vent about the situation to someone, do it very briefly, and then put it to rest. Unfortunately, many people will continue to talk about the issue to anyone (and everyone) that will listen…this only energizes the situation by giving it more attention.
An even better approach – vent on paper; that way you don’t have to bring someone else down with you.
If you are finding it hard to let it go, try to give the other person the benefit of the doubt – maybe they’ve had a terrible day, or are going through a very hard time. This of course should not give them license to behave poorly, but it may give you the perspective you might need to forgive them, forget it, and move on.
Remember, you always have a choice. You can choose to respond to challenging situations by fighting fire with fire, thus propagating more of the same, or you can break the chain, and be a happier person as a result.