Last week I wrote that one of the things I simultaneously love and sometimes hate about life is that in EVERY case, we have just two choices. We live in a world of duality. That is a fact. Everything is one thing or the opposite; light or dark, up or down, good or bad, loving or fearful, etc.
On that theme, last week I wrote about the choice people seem to struggle with the most: taking responsibility or being a victim. This week I want to write about another choice people universally seem to struggle with every day: how to deal with people.
To set the stage, let’s say you have an employee, a boss, or a co-worker who behaves in ways that are upsetting to you. How do you handle that? Or you have a similar issue with a spouse, a child or a customer. What we experience is that in the vast majority of cases, people allow these other people to upset them. These upsets stem from a judgment, whether realized or not, that the other person is not acting in an acceptable way.
When we make such a judgment, we are left with a number of choices, all equally unacceptable. We can put up with their behavior, we can confront them, or we can gossip about them to someone who will listen to our complaint. When we do any of these things, what we don’t realize is that we have bought into the ego’s theme song that you and the other person are separate and they are the enemy. That’s the fundamental choice that we all too often make and is the root cause of our challenge with other people.
Is there another choice? Absolutely. You can recognize that all of your issues with others stem from your judgments and expectations. In the world of the ego, you want people to be the way you want them to be, you expect them to be that way, and you judge their behavior based on your expectations.
The other choice is to understand that people are the way they are. People always do the best they know how WITH THE TOOLS THEY HAVE AVAILABLE TO THEM. You can accept people just the way they are and just the way they are not and have some compassion for the challenges they are facing. After all, you’re not the only person who has challenges!
You can listen for the gold in people. That is, no matter how they behave, that is not who they are. Everyone was born whole, perfect and wonderful and how they have learned to behave based on their life experiences has never altered the truth of who they are. If you could look out at the world through their eyes, you’d surely understand where they’re coming from and have a lot more compassion for who they are.
So choose that way of being with the people in your life. Be loving, kind and patient. Have some compassion for who they are and give up your judgments and expectations. And here’s the best part of all. Because, as I explain in Unshackled Leadership, people show up in your conversation about who you believe them to be. If you choose this route, you will likely see them transform into an equally loving, kind and patient human being right before your eyes. If you want to read more about this, you can get a copy of Unshackled Leadership, either as a physical book or an audio book, at http://www.unshackledleadership.com/online-store/