Posted by: Christine Donovan | May 26, 2009

Succeeding with Difficult People: Part II — Could it be ME?

I was thinking about my old friend, Al, this week.  Al was one of those jovial, delightful people who didn’t have an enemy in the world.  Al wasn’t naive nor Pollyanna-ish; he was a realist.  But he just didn’t take everything in life so seriously.  He rarely took offense.  He chose to give others the benefit of the doubt, and chose to find the positive interpretation in every situation.  Al passed away a few years ago, and the world lost a rare, positive and loving spirit.

Al and people like him show us that conflict is more often than not a matter of perception, and is always a matter of choice.  We choose to be offended; we choose to tune into the radio frequency of negativity; we choose to let the often unintended comment get under our skin and eat away like destructive bacteria.  Heaven help us if we allowed a ‘potential’ slight to slip by without irritation or offense.  And yet, that’s exactly what we must learn to do if we are to survive in this increasingly conflicted world.

We can simply change our attitude… move the compass just one degree from negative to positive and watch the world around us change dramatically.

The following explains how our perceptions become our conflicts.  Unfortunately I can’t remember or find the source (It’s not mine).  It was taken from the website of an Australian psychologist:

• Our perspectives are created through assumptions.
• Assumptions create the standards we live by and how we expect others to act.
• Our standards and assumptions form our opinions, and we knit our opinions very coherently into a story.
• If we were to adjust our assumptions, we would have a different perspective and different ways of behaving and reacting.

So, we do have control over our assumptions, standards, perceptions and reactions.  The next time you are tempted to take offense at a comment, someone’s rolled eyes, shrugged shoulders, or condescending tone … stop yourself and ask, “Is this more about my perception than reality?”

Life is too short to spend so much of it angry, frustrated, annoyed and hurt.  As a wise person once said, “Get over it.”

More on difficult people tomorrow…

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