Approaching the World with Good Intentions
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the effects of how you see your world has on how situations play out in your life. I had a discussion with my brother over the weekend about kindness and approaching things with the idea that everyone around you has good intentions when they do what they do. We all know that not everyone operates from that truth –but one thing we can control is how we approach things in our lives, so that we do indeed start from there.
I shared with him a recent experience where I had to really be conscious about how I was going to approach a certain situation because the old me would have been less than kind –
I was at Wegmans this weekend and ran into a former co-worker of mine. As I have shared, I was recently laid off and my experience at that company was less than ideal for quite a while before that. Many of the people there were just not nice –whether it was a personality trait or a product of the company culture, I can’t say–but I would categorize 8 out of 10 people in the department I worked in as unkind regularly, not only to me but to many others. There was no team atmosphere, no sense of each other as people, no compassion.
After working there for 7 years – with this particular person, I didn’t hear a peep from him when I got laid off. I would have thought a facebook message or an email. We had been friendly through the years and he lives in the same area. I did receive notes from many others out there. It was just annoying and disappointing and hurtful to not hear from some of the people I would have thought would at least send a note.
Anyway, I don’t have time for people like that in my life and would have preferred not to see him. But he stopped me in one of the aisles and wanted to make small talk. The old me would have been standoffish and maybe even, rude. But I did stop, chatted about mundane things, asked him about his family, wished him well and walked away. There is no reason to be mean. It would have been a reflection of me, not him. Who knows why he didn’t reach out to me and who cares, really. There’s no need to create discord or strain a relationship that really is just a blip on my life radar.
I felt good about how I handled it and realized – I can do this!
My brother shared a story about letting his three year old daughter put the parking ticket in the machine and she was fumbling around, taking a long time. She dropped the ticket and well, you can imagine, she was futzing around. There was a lady behind them with her teen-aged kids waiting – who decided that this was annoying enough to warrant rudeness. And very rudely – told my brother and family to hurry up and that there were people waiting. I get that people are in a hurry and maybe they were holding people up – but to choose to approach them in an aggressive, rude way wasn’t necessary. We are talking about a three year old -learning to do grown up things and think about how she is teaching her own kids to behave when inconvenienced.
Personally, I would have thought it was adorable and would have encouraged her on even if she weren’t my niece. But this lady could have smiled and asked if she could go ahead because she was late or whatever. And my brother didn’t respond in the best way either —
It really does take practice. We have to relearn how to approach conflict, because for many of us our knee jerk reaction is to defend our actions & get defensive. If you start to approach everyone with the idea that they are coming from a good place, with good intentions – it will get easier. And if you really practice being kind, even to those that don’t deserve it – you will become better for it too.
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