When people do something, anything, directed at you, do you assume they mean you harm or assume they mean you good?
A snippy email, text, or tweet? Do you jump to the conclusion that they’re mad at you, or assume they’re having an off moment?
A curt waiter or salesclerk? Are they mean or having a bad day?
The driver who cut you off today? A jerk or someone rushing to someone’s hospital bedside?
I like playing the “what could be happening in their life to make them act this way today?” game. It radically changes my perception of people’s intent. I’ve always done it to an extent, but reading Noah Blumenthal’s Be The Hero pushed me to do it more consistently. I like feeling compassion rather than frustration or hurt when people are snippy and unpleasant towards me. At the very least it makes my life better.
Last week I ordered Patti Digh‘s book Four Word Self Help. I stashed it in a high traffic area and pick it up whenever I pass by. Amazingly I seem to always open it to the perfect page for that moment. M has taken to doing the same and I’m really loving discussing our different interpretations of the short four word advice. (For instance we had radically different takes on “Be A Surge Protector.” But that’s a whole other blog post.)
One page I keep coming back to is this one:
What changes for you if you assume the person interacting with you means well?
I get to meet Patti Digh at Type A Parent next month. I can’t wait. It’s going to be one of the highlights of my trip to North Carolina.