People Skills And Letting People Be

You never know till you try to reach them how accessible men are; but you must approach each man by the right door. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Never miss an opportunity to make others happy, even if you have to leave them alone in order to do it.~Author Unknown

Dealing with others is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Reading people and being able to respond appropriately to their moods is an important skill, and one that is lacking in many people. I’ve been trying to teach my son how to read and respond to my moods without blowing up at him when I’m upset or worn out. I learned this skill from dealing with abrasive people, and I don’t want to be abrasive toward my son, so it has been a difficult process for us. I think he is learning it, along with empathy though.

Rule one for dealing with someone who is acting like they want to be left alone: Don’t take it personally. It may be a personal response to you, or it may be a response to everything at the moment. Either way, assume it’s to the situation and not just to you and you will probably be happier and better able to cope.

Rule two for dealing with someone who is acting like they want to be left alone: Offer your assistance briefly and allow them to respond. If they behave dismissively, leave them alone. Since you’re not taking it personally, this action is pretty easy. If you respond in kind, however abrasive they may be, you will probably only make the situation worse. Choose to be brief and gentle, and the situation will likely diffuse.

Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes also helps immensely. When you recognize that you probably wouldn’t be responding at your best if you were tired or annoyed either, it helps you figure out what you can do to communicate with this person and keep the situation from getting acrimonious.

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Cut It Out

You're feeling great? That's unusual. We'd better run some tests...

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust

Today’s lesson can be summed up in two words: get out. If someone is a distraction from your peace of mind or your positive thinking, cut them out. You, and you alone, are responsible for creating the peaceful environment in your life. If there are people that regularly destroy that, stop associating with them. If you must associate with them, do not do it socially, or only do it as much as you are geared up to combat the negativity. The bottom line is that you cannot maintain a healthy attitude and a good grip on life while others are tearing you down. Do not let the naysayers have a foothold. If they already have one, choose today to dislodge it. Cut them out, and don’t let yourself look back.

Some may ask you why you no longer associate with them, someday. When they ask, feel free to tell them that you aren’t strong enough to cope with their problems and your own: there is only enough room in your life for your own issues. It beats telling them that they’re sour-pusses that drag you down, and it is at least somewhat less offensive. In the short term, get your feet under you, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, shouldn’t or that you will be disappointed. You are the captain of your own ship. Fill it with the people who lift you up; throw the naysayers overboard!

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When You Are Honest, You Know Who You Are.

A lie will easily get you out of a scrape, and yet, strangely and beautifully, rapture possesses you when you have taken the scrape and left out the lie. ~Charles Edward Montague

My son joined cub scouts, and we talked a lot about honesty, keeping promises and how important those things are. It may be rare when there is an immediate reaction for your telling the truth or keeping your word, but it is always something that makes you feel good, no matter who knows it. I read a sweet story calledThe Emperor’s Seed which sums it all up quite nicely. Sometimes it comes with a great reward in the immediate future. Sometimes the only reward is knowing you were honest when you might have gotten away with not being so.

When you can’t be trusted and when you start lying, no one knows who you are. Not even you. When you are honest, you know exactly who you are.

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Are You a Bucket Filler or a Dipper?

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~Albert Schweitzer

I’ve been thinking a lot today about helping take care of other people emotionally. Do you take care of others emotionally? Are you a Bucket Filler? Taking a moment to notice someone else’s strengths helps fill them emotionally, and takes nothing from you. Then people are more likely to respond in kind, and fill your bucket. It doesn’t take much to be kind and improve your own day, as well as the person you were kind to. At the same time, it doesn’t take much to dip into someone else’s emotional strength by being unkind. There is a lot of power in our words.

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Dwelling is Destructive

Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat. ~Henry Emerson Fosdick

Some people believe that in order to process an event or a frustration that they have to talk about it. There is a fine line between catharsis and dwelling on the negative though. If you find yourself frequently retelling the same negative story over and over again, you are not getting it out of your system; you are culturing it and allowing the negativity to fester. Even retelling it once may be allowing it to fester. This does nothing to fix the problem and it brings you down.

Don’t allow external events to bring you down. No one has the power to hurt you emotionally, no matter what they do, unless you let them. Dwelling on unfortunate events or people only hurts you, and it does nothing to them.

If you find yourself returning to thoughts that don’t make you feel good, set them aside and focus on more positive thoughts. It may help you to listen to a song that you find uplifting, watching a happy movie or reading something positive.

This is not to say that grieving isn’t ever appropriate. Grieving is always appropriate under certain circumstances. The problem arises when that fear or pain overrides your ability to function in the long-term. It was a difficult road for me, but after a lot of emotional turmoil, I realized that it’s a mental thing and entirely within my ability to control. I don’t have to allow the things that happen to me to control how I feel, and neither does anyone else. If you are dwelling on things that don’t make you feel good, you are allowing those external influences to destroy your peace. If you want peace, you have to impose it in spite of those things. It may take practice, but you can do it.

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Appearances Matter

They shouldn’t. I’d be the first to say that appearances are very deceptive and the only way to have any idea what someone is truly capable of is getting to know that person well. Sadly, though this isn’t the case.

The world is governed more by appearance than realities so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as to know it. ~Daniel Webster

Something that people seem to struggle with is the way the world should be versus the way the world is. I have climbed the corporate ladder and a large part of why is understanding this fundamental principle: appearances matter. I’ll be the first to say that they shouldn’t. I spent a good chunk of my youth confounding teachers and peers by being exceptional in spite of my ridiculous lack of fashion sense. I didn’t look or act like a nerd and I didn’t try to compete with my peers for top spots in our class, but I achieved them without looking the part. So, it is possible to succeed without looking like you know what you are doing, but it is much easier if you already look like you know what you are doing.

People have a pre-determined idea of how various professions look. When I tell people I am a writer, they conjure the image of a strange individual wearing pajamas with my hair up and containing a variety of writing implements and glasses on. They are not far off the mark. Part of why I write now is because it allows me to stay home with pajamas on, and I find my life is much easier when there is a pen and a pencil or two sticking out of my bun. I don’t happen to wear glasses.

People get surprised when they see me in my writer persona and find out that I used to be a bookkeeper, or even worse, the CFO of a corporation. When I was a corporate officer, I wore suits. I had well coiffed hair, though usually it still had a pen sticking out of it. I even wore makeup. All of this was true, at least when I had meetings with people the first time. It was important that when I met with people the first time that they saw my persona. If they didn’t see my persona, they didn’t take me seriously.

If you want people to take you seriously, you have to fit their notion of your profession. Once they see you as a professional in that capacity, you can relax into your own ideas about fashion. At least more so. Some companies do have some kind of dress code, and you should conform to that if you want to keep your job.

Your life will get much easier if you accept this principle and apply it, rather than fighting to overcome expectations that are based on your appearance.

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Personal Peace Making

An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind. ~Mahatma Gandhi

A warless world will come as men develop warless hearts. ~Charles Wesley Burns

I have spent years trying to achieve personal peace, and I think I my finally have a handle on how to do it, though it is a conscious decision that I have to expend a lot of effort on. I think it is because personal peace is a decision. We can decide whether to have drama in our lives or not. We allow people to make waves in our space. We allow others to stir the pot. If someone goes for the spoon, we do not have to let them stir the pot. We can choose to ignore them, and rob them of the victory of eliciting a reaction from us. By choosing a more zen-like attitude toward difficult people or circumstances, we can achieve personal peace.

I think that having peace on earth would be a more realistic idea if we internalized it more and less of it meant just being nice to other people; you can be outwardly nice and still seething under the surface.

The real peace comes from being able to let it go. If you don’t give difficult people and situations the power to bother you, you will have peace in your life. Then we wouldn’t need everyone on earth to want peace in order to have it, though most people would still need to want it.

So, how do you let it go?

When a difficult situation comes up, I cope with it when it happens, and I move on once it has been dealt with. If the situation is one that really tries my abilities in this area, I make sure I am breathing deeply using my diaphragm, taking care of the problem, and then I move on. I have found that the more I practice coping and moving on, the less I need the deep breathing to do it with a zen-like attitude.

Deal with the problem. Take the steps to fix the issue, whatever it is. It may mean finding a new place to live, overdrawing an account to pay a bill or simply allowing a difficult person who isn’t interested in a peaceful life to vent over something. Whatever the problem is, there is always a solution. If you internalize that, you can always find and enact a solution to your problem.

Moving on~
Do not allow yourself the luxury of dwelling on things that have been dealt with. If you focus on how frustrated you were about the problem, or how annoyed you are that the solution didn’t exactly suit you, you are allowing that problem to ruin your peace. You are permitting it to destroy something you have built. Do you really want to allow someone or something else that power over you?

This is something that can help you to calm down before you start with the coping step. In teaching my kids to use their diaphragm to take deep breaths, I tell them to breath into their bellies. When you take a deep breath, breathe slowly, pushing your stomach out the entire time you take in air. Then push the air out with your diaphragm slowly. The increase in oxygen and control over your diaphragm force you to calm yourself down. You can’t take this control over your breath and muscles if you are still upset. It also forces you to focus on something other than whatever is upsetting you.

Outside forces only have real control over our emotions when we allow them. Other people only have control over how we feel and respond when we allow them. These things are all entirely our choice. We can choose to be out of control and lack peace, or we can choose to feel peace. It’s all up to us.

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