Sometimes people are cranky, especially now in Covid days with new rules and frustrations. Sometimes I am too, although as co-author of Get Along with Anyone, I do try to walk my talk and practice what I teach. Yet, I have my lessons in getting along, too. Indeed stressful days or situations can bring out the beast in all of us. Yet, creating positive and productive connections is critical for reducing stress and overall wellness and well-being.
We often don’t know when people are dealing with life issues that can impact positive connections with us. They’re frustrated, stressed out, and thorny behavior surfaces. Yet, others might exhibit more than occasional crankiness, what I term a Prickly personality.
When people get “prickly”, their thorny behavior can test us to the core. Our stamina. Our ability to maintain self-control. Our effectiveness in managing their difficult behavior. Our confusion about whether to confront an unpleasant interaction or just let it go. Our decision not to let their behavior control our own.
When you shift your focus, you enter interactions with a new perspective; this powerfully transforms difficult dynamics and makes a world of difference in how you respond and the experiences you create for yourself and others. It all depends on what you choose.
So I’m sharing “Shift Happens” as a reminder of changing some perspectives during difficult dynamics and difficult times.
To see those who are difficult to deal with, as those who may be dealing with many difficulties.
To see those who do not smile, as those likely in need of one.
To see those who are in your face, as those who really want to have your ear.
To see those who have hurt you, as those who also hurt, often for reasons you cannot see.
To see those whose ideas cause conflict, as those whose different perspectives may offer perfect solutions.
To see those who upset you, as those who serve as the perfect teachers for opening your heart.
To see those with a strong need to be right, as those who have a strong need to feel validated.
To see those who hold grudges, as those who are choosing to invest their energy in hanging on rather than letting go; closed hearts cannot give or receive their intended gifts.
To see the desire for connection, even when the possibility appears remote.
To see how a hostile situation plagued with disconnection might be transformed into an opportunity for coming together.
To see eye-to-eye, rather than an eye for an eye. When not seeing eye-to-eye, to seeing heart-to-heart.
To see that you either choose to connect or choose something else; your actions either result in connection, or something else.
Recognize your feelings of irritation, annoyance, and anger as signals for dealing with challenging situations and the people who cause them. Don’t hold others responsible for your reactions. Shift your thoughts away from blame and toward solutions. Dwell on the possibilities for creating a more cooperative environment rather than condemning the problems you face. Warning: the prickly behavior of others can provoke prickly behavior in us; keep a tight rein on your responses so they don’t perpetuate or intensify prickly interactions.
Prickly People constantly challenge us to keep our hearts open when they’d rather close, to seek understanding when we wish they would change, and to forgive them for the anguish and distress they cause. You may not think you’re meeting the challenge, but if you’re doing whatever you can to maintain your self-respect and honor legitimate needs, you are. You are passing the test.
Remember that you always have a choice regarding what you think and do when people don’t treat you the way you want to be treated, or do what you want them to do. The best way to deal with difficult situations is to manage your reactions, and use assertive strategies to handle challenging communication dynamics with as much care and compassion as possible.
From Get Along with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere–8 Keys to Creating Enduring Connections with Customers, Co-Workers . . . Even Kids! Arnold Sanow and Sandra Strauss, Morgan James Publishers, 2007