While moving hundreds of miles away from family, joining a business, co-owning a business and now recently starting a business, I’ve picked up on a few things. Now I’m not a zen master and don’t plan on becoming one, these few tips have helped me avoid making a complete ass of myself while giving me peace of mind.
Sometimes what other people think matters.
I used to bravely state how “rebellious” I was by saying that I didn’t give a shit what other people think. It was then and still is the general belief that if you care what other people think, you are a fake who only tries to please people and there isn’t a shred of honesty in your cowardly body. The truth is that I didn’t ever not care what people thought. I cared a lot and would often try to repeat the behavior that was pissing people off even more just to show how much a rebel I was. Ironically, this made me as fake of a person as I was pretending I wasn’t.
It can really help to listen to what others say about you. Sure you have to sift through crap but if you hear the same thing said about you enough times from different people, could it be safe to assume that they might have a point? When it got to the point where even my friends commented on my hostility (and I realized that maybe my being miserable was the result of acting like a total bitch) I could no longer ignore the problem. Surprise surprise, once I began to work on not handling every confrontation like Old Yeller, I began to feel… Happier.
When not to get involved.
There are times when you just don’t need to get involved in a confrontation. At all. It’s nice to provide support for your friend if they are facing confrontation but do it quietly without getting sucked in. What’s more irritating than a “white knight”? Not really much. It’s obnoxious.
I remember one particular situation I put myself in a couple years ago. It involved a friend of mine who was in an argument with someone else over something that was truly just between them. Upon hearing that someone was arguing with my friend, I leaped on my high horse and charged into battle, determined to put myself in harm’s way so my friend would no longer suffer such ill mannered attacks. During this heroic feat I managed to alienate my (thankfully forgiving) friend, seriously piss off the person they were arguing with and unintentionally upset a lot of people who had nothing to do with the entire thing. When the dust settled and as I sat in my time out corner the thought suddenly occurred to me: “I had no business being involved in that.” Like a little light bulb above my head. While my friend forgave my blundering I managed to make un-friends with pretty much everyone else involved for probably ever.
You can’t please everyone.
You can’t. It’s not that you don’t try and you obviously care because it bothers you when it doesn’t work out. There are many reasons why it’s not possible to please everyone: Sometimes things just don’t work out, wires get crossed, and sometimes of course people don’t want to be pleased. In fact maybe being angry at you may be the only thing that WILL please them and so you had best just walk away, and that brings me to my next segment…
Learn when to walk away.
This one was tough to learn because for the longest time I couldn’t decipher the difference between walking away and being passive. I hate being passive in the sense that I could have resolved something peacefully but I decided to let it fester and continue being a problem. Whether you’re about to blow your top or you realize that there is nothing else you can do, it’s best to just walk away, even just temporarily.
There are so many times in my life where walking away has really helped me or not walking away has really made a situation worse. I couldn’t really do them all justice by listing a few and who really wants to read about the drama in someone else’s life (actually a lot of people…) but because I don’t care what you think I’m not going to list them. The toughest thing about walking away, for me, is that it doesn’t necessarily make me feel better… At least not right away. Sometimes walking away means letting something stand unresolved. Whether or not you plan on going back to the issue and working it out after you’ve cooled down, taking a step back away from the problem really is important.
Oh and while you’re walking away don’t punch a wall and break a bone in your hand just below your pinky.
Silence that unsolicited critique.
This I actually learned because it was a rule on a website! You might have an opinion about something but if no one has asked you what your opinion is, keep it to your damn self. Write it in your journal, rant to your dog or take a job for all we care, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. Most people who know me know that I have an opinion about pretty much everything. What they DON’T know is that what they hear from me is but a trickle of all the opinions I have.
Make no mistake, this is not a repeat of your childhood mantra “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” – Because that is just dishonest. If someone asks you to critique their photo and it’s a skewed unfocused hunk of garbage, by all means let them know in the most polite (or hilarious) way what your opinion is. However, on the flip side, if a woman walks into the room and she weighs more than what you think is attractive, telling her that she’s fat will not earn you a scout badge of honesty medal.
What can you take away from this? Being honest doesn’t mean being a jerk.
This mantra is “That’s nice, but no one asked for your opinion, so keep your mouth shut.”