Terry was my manager. He was a gruff and abrasive man. After working with him for a month, I wanted to quit. It was hard not to be offended by his direct and aggressive rants. Within a week, I knew he was a bully, and I took most of his attacks personally. I quit several months into the job.
Working for Terry would not be easy for anyone; however, now I have some ideas for handling the Terry’s in my life. Below are three things ( I wish I knew back then) to not get offended by others.
3 Tips on How Not to Get Offended by Others:
It’s Not About You.
When a comment or rant is directed at you, most of the time, it’s more about the other person than you. Even so, it’s hard not to take it personally. The best method I know to deflect offensive comments is to transform the situation with a broader vision.
In other words, don’t get down in the dirt and wrestle with the gritty details. Instead, focus on where you’re headed, not where you are. If you want meaningful, rewarding feedback, focus on that. Divert your attention to any positive quality you can glean about yourself, your work, or this angry colleague. Inside critical comments could be feedback that could help you; as long as you don’t take it personally, you can grow from it.
Just remember other people’s testy emotions are not about you.
Here’s an example that helps me: when my son was young, he used to fling himself onto the floor and shout, I hate you when he didn’t get his way. Hate is a strong word. However, it never offended me. He’s my son, and I love him no matter what. I know how wonderful he is, and his emotions are just getting the best of him. I don’t take his comments personally because it’s not about me; it’s about him. I adore him and know this emotional outburst will pass.
2. Ditch the Label.
Bully is a strong word. As long as I label any part of my manager’s behaviour as aggressive or inappropriate, it will impact how I interact with him. He may do a lot of great things, but they will be largely unnoticed. The truth is, there are no good people or bad people. We are all more of a mixed bag and oscillate from one quality to the next.
If you label someone as bad, they become that way. Your mind will start to look for evidence and prove your case. However, the one who suffers the most is you. Every time you think critically about someone else, you pour adrenaline into your bloodstream and enslave yourself in your stress cycle.
The reality is most people mean well. Nobody wakes up in the morning intending to hurt your feelings. Also, horrible people can do beautiful things. There are happy people and miserable ones but not good people or bad people. Bad is just a label designed to make you unhappy.
3. Kindness and appreciation will transform others to you.
You can’t control other people, but you can control how you interpret their behaviours and relate to them. I think of kindness not as a goal to accomplish but as a feeling inside me. To nurture kindness, think kind thoughts and feel kind feelings towards others.
People don’t have to earn your kind thoughts- it’s not attached to any outcome. It’s simply a positive, warm feeling that will transform how you feel about others. If you don’t have kindness or compassion entrenched in some of your thought patterns, likely you have a routine of judging others. Judgement will always end up in increasingly harsh assessments and labels.
Instead, consider this, to work with friendly people, be a nice person. It doesn’t mean you have to run around doing favours and kind deeds for others. Kindness is a feeling, not a goal. Think and feel kind thoughts about others. If they are aggressive or offensive, you won’t even notice. In fact, over time, these behaviours would fall away because they will be responding to your kind demeanour. Kindness can permeate your interactions with others and help you release resentment.
Life can be a chore when your goal is to control outcomes and people. You can’t. As long as this is your focus, you will always feel irritated. Your relationships will always feel stalled or frustrated. It’s beautiful to know that you have control over how you think. Continually reimagine your relationships as rewarding, kind and fun, and this is what they will be.
As a keynote speaker, my job is to uplift people. I know I can’t do that by talking about problems and conflict. In a one hour motivational speech, my only goal is to help people move forward. We don’t have time to complain about the past. I always want to paint a picture for the audience that helps them feel good and move forward. No amount of talking about problems will do that.
Remember, people are not a problem. Even if they stir up conflict, don’t label people as a problem. People are dynamic and full of possibilities. Our only goal should be to bring out the best in others.