We all face difficult people and ugly situations in our lives. But the way we choose to deal with them is up to us. Here are four friendly strategies to deal with unfriendly people.
1. Question the source
Did someone tell you something bad about him/herself or did you hear it from someone else? In the latter case, everyone tells things from their own perspective and they might leave out relevant information. So think for yourself. Just as with any other information you hear, be critical in accepting any new ‘truths’, especially if they aren’t properly backed up.
But what if your judgement of someone is based on bad behaviour you witnessed yourself? Ask yourself if it is possible that you misinterpreted the situation. If there is even a slight possibility that something isn’t true, don’t act as if it is. Don’t jump to conclusions.
2. Mirror beauty, not ugliness
One can tell more about you by what you say about others, than one can by what others say about you. Do you choose to tell the whole world about someone’s mistake? Do you choose to take revenge? Do you choose to think ugly thoughts about someone? Or do you step up and break the negativity? Complaining about someone will only make you sound whiny and it won’t solve anything. Even worse, people will unconsciously connect the negativity to your personality. Don’t let the ugly reflect on your beautiful self!
3. Recognise the flip side
Find a counterpart for the negative. Does someone always act bossy and dominant? That person is probably really good at getting things done or has a doses confidence you can only dream of. Just as your own characteristics are never black and white, those of others aren’t either. Find the good in the situation or person.
2. Use your creativity
Your creativity is a great source to deal positively with ugly situations. If you are sure that something bad happened, make it a game to find solutions that explain the situation. Somebody cut you off in traffic? His wife might be having a baby and he is in a hurry to make it to the hospital. Your colleague saw you struggling while you were carrying something heavy and he didn’t help? He might suffer from an injury he got while saving an old lady and isn’t allowed to lift anything with his left arm for 4 weeks.
Sometimes the less obvious these thoughts are, the better they work to break a negative pattern. It doesn’t matter so much that the explanation is ridiculous; it is more about creating the possibility of a reason that you might not foresee.
Often I will voice these ridiculous hypothetical explanations in a group, when I notice a conversation is going in a negative judgemental direction. The nice thing is that it playfully communicates that you don’t agree with the current opinion, without explicitly telling someone he might be wrong. In my experience it has a way of silencing a discussion.
Whatever the situation, there is always more than meets the eye. A creative mind can help tremendously in opening up your perspective and introducing you to a world of possible explanations.
Do you use any strategies to think kinder thoughts about others?