My mom taught me manners. Sorry, Dad. The credit goes to Mom on this one. She raised me to write thank you notes for everything. She made sure I never forgot to say please and thank you. She is the reason growing up my friends’ parents used to tell me that I was the politest one of their kid’s friends. So, when I encounter people who don’t have the same level of respect and politeness engrained in them, it throws me off.
My aunt always tells the story of when she took me to see The Wizard of Oz, and that day someone had been mean to me at pre-school. Apparently, she told told me that whoever was mean to me probably did it because they had low self-esteem. After seeing the play, I told her The Wicked Witch probably had low self-esteem, too. So what if someone is “mean” to you as an adult?
We all encounter people that test our patience. The demeaning coworker. The not-so-friendly friend. The customer that is rude for no reason. Growing up, my brother and I often did not see eye-to-eye. My parent’s main advice was always: kill him with kindness. The theory is that it’s pretty difficult to me rude to someone who is always nice to you. In practice, it isn’t always easy. So, you need to be equipped for responding positively.
1. Breathe before you respond.
Take a moment before you say anything. Your first instinct is to go on the defense, but that might make the matter worse. Inhale. Exhale. Use this time to think about what you want to say, so that you don’t say something you could regret.
2. Lead by example.
We all know the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. This is involves more than being nice. It means be inclusive, it means demonstrating your expectations and it means holding to your standards. Remember when in elementary school you felt bad after not getting invited to someone’s birthday party? That never goes away. Sometimes you are going to feel left out. But that doesn’t mean you should you do the same to the people who make you feel that way. When you’re the bigger person, you do what others don’t and you do it sincerely.
3. Do not act out of spite.
Revenge is not the answer. Let’s say you’re frustrated because your roommate always leaves dishes in the sink. Leaving your own dishes in the sink won’t “teach them a lesson.” It will just make more dishes in the sink. And you will inevitably feel worse.
4. Learn to let it go.
Acceptance is key. Life isn’t always going to go your way. And if you spend all of your time being angry about that, you’re only hurting yourself. You can’t expect anybody to change just because you want them to. So, learning to let go what you cannot change about them will ultimately make you happier.
5. Laugh more.
Don’t take life so seriously. It’s way too short, and you have to enjoy it. Unfortunately, we aren’t going to like everyone we meet and not everyone we meet is going to like us. But that’s okay! Next time someone makes you really mad, make a conscious effort to laugh about it. First of all, if they are trying to get under your skin, it will show them that it didn’t work. Secondly, positive energy is contagious (and so is negative energy!). When you hold in your anger, you usually end up letting it out on the people you care about–who don’t deserve it. Spread positivity instead.
People are going to try to get you down sometimes in life. Don’t let them! You deserve happiness, and don’t let anyone make you think otherwise.