Recently, I was catching up with someone I hadn’t seen in a while.
At first, the conversation was pleasant, as was my general mood, but as the chatting continued, I realized this person was swimming in barely concealed hostility.
Almost everything that came out of this person’s mouth was either a brag or a humble brag, a passive-aggressive remark, or a backhanded compliment (don’t you just love it when someone insults you like that – and it’s “socially acceptable”?).
But perhaps what rankled most was the obvious avoidance of discussing anything going on in my life. Whether the reason for this was self-absorption, disinterest, jealousy, or whatever, I could only hazard to guess.
So what did I decide to do? Well, I held my tongue and chose to follow the advice from Ms. Angelou as stated above. I decided to look at the experience differently, to frame it in a way that muted the annoyance I felt, and replace it with understanding.
I already know this person has difficulties going on in his own life, which helped me to recognize that the hostility had very little to do with me.
So I chose to temper my hurt with this awareness. The pain he is presently enduring in his life is far worse than anything he could inflict on me with his words. And perhaps, along with that, he was having an especially hard day.
It doesn’t always work, but in this case, a little understanding made all the difference.
Have you ever consciously changed your thought processes about something?
How has it worked for you?
How do you deal with difficult people?