For many years I didn’t get along well with bosses. I pretended. I talked behind their backs. I thought they were idiots.
Unfortunately for me, they were the people who could tell me the truth about myself.
Saying “What can I do to fix this?” would have been much more effective than dissing their opinions. Arguing and defending my own perspective is what I chose to do instead. It got me nowhere.
When I finally got humble enough to see myself from the outside, my world rearranged itself into peace and success.
“Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.”
“Once you start to dislike someone, everything they do begins to annoy you.”
Although, there is a smart way to opt out of the pain of living or working around someone who annoys us to death: we can choose to think about the things we appreciate about them before it is too late.
Or, we can join the crowd and set fire to another bridge.
Wise people don’t give up on people that easily.
How calloused of me to expect human beings to be “normal” when most of us have gone through debilitating pain.
How naïve of me to expect people to be “mature” when most of us were raised by flawed and confused adults.
How short-sighted of me to be intolerant of people who are trying their hardest to make sense of their own crazy circumstances.
I swatted unsuccessfully at a fly in my house. Two days later, the fly was still following me around like a pet. In a few more days he would be dead on the windowsill, so I tried to lead him to the door, which, of course, did not work.
The fly reminded me of me as a corporate employee:
- I got swatted a couple of times for stupid stuff.
- Afterwards, I pretended to be a friend of management (while bad-mouthing them behind their backs).
- Unable to forget the swats, I resisted their efforts to help me (which were legitimate).
- Eventually, I would end up in the “corporate graveyard.”
We so often resist those who offer us insight: bosses, exes, family, friends, authority figures, teachers, co-workers, etc., while flitting around with frantic, clueless self-preservation efforts.
No one is listening when we…
But, we keep doing it, with irrational hope, ignorance, or annoying arrogance.
Suggested alternatives (only if we want to be heard):
- Ask more questions.
- Mirror emotions.
- Listen without interrupting.
- Drop our agenda and just be present.
While teaching a management class, one of the participants continuously spouted off condemnations against his boss, his company, stupid coworkers, and the “tragically unmotivated younger generation.” When solutions were offered for one of his complaints, he shut it down with a standard reply; “It won’t work. Tried that. You can’t fix stupid.”
He reminded me of me; of the times I refused to listen to anyone who challenged me to take responsibility for change.
As much as we hate a Know-It-All, sometimes the Know-It-All is us.
To keep myself from throwing cold water on others’ suggestions, I am learning to say:
Tell me more about that.
What am I missing?
By disabling my shut-down switch, I listen, learn, and grow up.
“If you have time to whine and complain about something, then you have the time to do something about it.”
That might sound trite…until we calculate the astonishing amount of time that we have wasted whining and complaining.
With just a little of that wasted time, I have found that I can…
- Ask the Universe for wisdom and help
- Offer what I do have without complaining about what I don’t
- Seek out mentors and inspiration to counteract my feeling of helplessness
- Decide to do what I don’t want to do
- Take a baby-step toward something meaningful
Probably worth the discipline it takes to watch what I say…
While working as a middle manager I was very irritated with my boss for not giving me the recognition I deserved until…in an awkward transaction, I realized my employees were irritated with me for the very same reason.
Since then, I have noticed how easy it is for me to totally blast away at someone else’s cluelessness while completely missing my own.
The following routine helps me be less of a nincompoop:
- Before I open my mouth with a swift condemnation for someone else, I ask myself (with the excruciating humility it takes to be completely honest), “Have I ever done anything similar?”
- If the answer is “Yes.” or, “I don’t know,” I postpone judgement. In most cases, my memory will pull up something embarrassing within a few hours. Then, I decide to show mercy to the offender (as I hope others will show mercy to me) before I move ahead.
- If the answer is no. I thank God that I dodged that bullet, ask myself if I can address the issue proactively, and then, show mercy to the offender. (I never know when I’ll need some mercy in the future.)
When I am with someone who says something critical about another person or group, I immediately;
1) Regret the times I have spoken harshly about others (without giving them an opportunity for rebuttal or explanation)
2) Feel compassion for the person or group being criticized
3) Feel compassion for the person criticizing
4) Hope for a more generous world where tolerance and the benefit of a doubt are readily available
If we only say things about others, in a manner that we wouldn’t mind someone saying the same about us, what a big shift in the airspace there would be…
When I am preoccupied with the faults of exes, politicians, competitors, or relatives, I may be with the majority, but it is the mediocre majority.
When I am preoccupied with the faults of others, I will be tied and bound to ineffectiveness, derailed from happiness, and blind to my own culpability.
When I am preoccupied with the faults of anyone, I will miss the best opportunities of my life while groveling for my own self-worth at the muddy feet of jealousy.
And even worse, by my example, I will pull others down with me, to wallow in the smug and dirty alleys of vanity.