In a perfect world, each human we interacted with would be considerate, mindful, prompt, kind, generous and more. They'd get our jokes and we'd get theirs. No one would ever be cross, snippy, ruffled or anything less than convivial.
Of course we all know this is not a perfect world. And imperfections all around us are what keep things interesting. That said, I guarantee that most of us frequently come across people who make us tick, or seem to trigger negativity in us for whatever reason. Sometimes we know why, sometimes we don't. Sometimes understanding the negative dynamic makes it easier, other times it seems irrelevant.
Here are seven tips for navigating those tricky relationships, and to remain calm, present and authentic to ourselves in the process:
1. Appreciate the power of the pause.
For most of us (myself very much included) the moment someone says something that offends me or does something otherwise inconsiderate, I've formed an opinion. I try not to be judgmental of course, but sometimes you just can't help it. When someone's actions or words trigger me, I tend to fast forward: I'll find myself imagining how a project to turn out poorly, how they'll screw up a partnership, how they'll offend clients.
Because of the very fact that there's infinite potential to fast forward your thoughts into the negative, let's take a moment to collectively remember the power of pausing.
Take a deep breath and one big step back. Now think of what that simple gesture could do for you in a tough interaction. Before you jump to any conclusions, try making a conscious decision to put the judgment on hold for a second. From this pause, you'll be better able to proceed with a mind and heart that are at least slightly more open.
2. Honor your ability to stay neutral.
This one's simple (but not necessarily the easiest). For instance, if someone cuts you in line, try saying this: "Oh no! You must not have realized that the line starts back there. It's not totally clear!" That way, the other person has a chance for redemption (after all, we can all be careless now and again).
Of course, you needn't do this every single time someone "screws up," but extending a bit of grace and generosity to people (whether it's real or a result of "faking it") is beneficial. Not only is it a better idea to assume first that someone simply didn't realize there was a line, for example, but it will make you feel less stirred up and stressed out.
7. Realize that what you don't like in others is frequently what you don't like in yourself.