Mind the trap!

I am traveling by train this morning so I stopped to get some magazines and books in the train station. They make nice gifts to the people I am about to see in a few hours. As I am choosing my purchases I hear a discussion behind me:

Client: Hi, I would like to buy a magazine to read on the train.

Shopkeeper: Ok … there are tones here (the conversation was taking place behind me so I could not see them but from the tone I could imagine her face; not excited, euphemistically speaking)

Client: Yeah, can you recommend any?

Shopkeeper (really irritated): No! I am sick of all of them.

I didn’t turn to see if the client left. I hope she did. There were at least five other stores selling magazines in an area of a few square meters.

Working with people is hard. I have felt it in my bones over the past couple of weeks, functioning at the receiving end of parent communication while we’re trying to open a school during the pandemic. People are tough, they push all your buttons, especially the ones you really don’t want pushed and those you didn’t even know you had. People barge into conversations, emotions, prejudices and judgments running wild so many times.

The huge trap so many of us fall into though is thinking that by doing our jobs in a half assed type of way we are getting back to them who get on our nerves. And what a trap that is! Because you see, we are in that job, we are spending hours there, our life unfolds there, we bring our energy and we decide what to invest it in and how to transform it. Our reactions, internal and external, never or very seldom influence the behavior of others. They run havoc in us however. We think, mistakenly, that snapping at a client, coming down hard on another, shaming someone or giving another person a piece of our mind will make us feel better. That we will be able to let steam go and that we will be so much better for it.

Pay good attention! Mind the trap! When was the last time you snapped at someone and felt good about it one hour after the interaction? Come on, be honest, don’t tell yourself the lies about unloading. That is such BS. You unload 5 kilos and put on a ton. There is always a choice. We can always err on the side of kindness (even if that means silence and a smile) or we can err on the side of pissoffedness. Choose the one that will set you free.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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