Dealing with People

We are all social creatures.  There is a reason why solitary confinement is one of the worst punishments a person can face.  Being alone with your thoughts is scary…

Most of the time, we choose to spend time with people.  Many of whom annoy us, frustrate us, lie to us, gossip about us, and use us.

Of course, not all human interaction is bad but the negative interactions tend to dominate our thoughts.  

Ask yourself, which of these two scenarios will you remember at the end of a day?

1.       A stranger holding the door open for you

2.       A stranger shutting the door in your face

We can protect our own emotional sanctuary by preparing to deal with negative people. 

Before we begin, I must warn you that these mind tricks are for your thoughts only.  Think these thoughts but do not share them. These tricks help you re-frame a situation to help inoculate yourself from emotional pain.  If you start sharing these thoughts with others, you will ruin the effect.


The scenario

Your coworker agrees to meet you for an important meeting. 

You arrive at the meeting room ten minutes early, well prepared.  You wait and wait.  Thirty minutes later you realize that your colleague isn’t showing up.  He doesn't have the common courtesy to provide you with a reason for his absence.


How you feel about being stood up

You feel angry and frustrated.  You are in disbelief that another human being would be so inconsiderate.  You start thinking to yourself, “Did I do something to cause this?”

You coworker has caused you emotional pain.


Strategies against emotional pain caused by another person

1.       Rationalize the situation.

Is is possible that your coworker has a valid reason for standing you up?  Let’s think this through.  Maybe the person got into a car accident on the way to work.  Maybe there was a death in his family.  Maybe he was legitimately ill.

It’s always best to give people the benefit of the doubt. You would feel foolish if you got upset over the situation and find out afterwards that there is a valid reason for their absence.

Even if they don't have a valid reason for missing the meeting, imagining these scenarios will help you control your own emotions.

2.       Span of control.

It is pointless to get frustrated over something you have no control over.  In other words, you don’t have any control over your coworker and thus you cannot force him to show up to the meeting. 

Ask yourself what is within your span of control?  You can show up on time.  You can send a courtesy reminder to your colleague before the meeting. You can pick a meeting room that is close to their desk.  

If it isn’t in your control, let it go.  Don't let the uncontrollables control you.

3.       The anti-mentor method. 

Mentors teach you their secrets of life, while an anti-mentor show you the behaviors you should avoid doing yourself.

You can learn from an anti-mentor by watching and identifying the behaviors you dislike.  You then avoid exhibiting those behaviors yourself.  

In this case, your coworker teaches you the valuable lesson of showing up on time to meetings or providing ample amount of notice for your absence.  If you don't, you know the type of emotional pain you will cause to another person.

You must study anti-mentors in complete secrecy or else you run the risk of looking like a jerk, which by the way, makes you an anti-mentor to someone else.

4.       Pity the fool. 

Instead of allowing your coworker to affect your mood, you should pity him in secret for not knowing any better.  You are more enlightened.  You are more self-aware. Not everyone can hold themselves up to a high standard.

Don’t become the fool yourself by complaining and moaning about your coworker.  Just pity the fool.

Note it in your own mind and carry on.

5.       It’s now the past.

What can you do?  What happened has already happened.  You can’t change it.  Stop drinking your own poison by replaying the situation.  It’s time to move on.

Letting other people affect your emotions is a fool’s game. The only loser in this game is you. It’s your job to protect your positive energy, especially from other people.  To do this you must learn to cure your own negative emotions.  You must inoculate yourself from your own self-inflicted pain.

Use these strategies and you will be on the path to emotional freedom