I turned the corner in the airport yesterday and was immediately distracted by a man screaming and cussing with arms flailing at an American Airlines employee behind the counter. Wow. I thought, What a jerk.
Now that was my immediate reaction. Snap judgement? Sure. But those few seconds were all I had to go on and my evaluation of him wasn’t complimentary. This made me think, I wonder if he is a really nice guy. I wonder if he just had a bad day, he’s tired and the airline has messed up his flight. I know a thing or two about that.
But in that moment, it didn’t matter. He was being a jerk.
But don’t we all do that sometimes?
It’s really easy to justify our frustrations, fits, mood swings, reactions and hostility when something goes wrong, a company has taken advantage of us or someone has treated us poorly. We have this perception of the type of person that we are and want to be (*nice, patient, forgiving, understanding, empathetic, etc.*) but when we act in some other way, we justify it. “The situation called for it.”
At the store, there is one lane open and 30 people in line while other employees are on their cell phones doing nothing.
At a restaurant, the server makes us wait for 45 minutes after we are finished eating to get our check.
At work, a coworker consistently doesn’t pull their weight which leads to more work for us to do.
Are these situations frustrating and down-right unacceptable? Absolutely.
But when you react in any of these situations by being hateful, condescending, impatient or unforgiving – you are no longer controlling the situation, (or yourself,) you are letting the situation control you.
If you feel like it’s okay to be a jerk when the situation calls for it, then at the end of the day, you’re still a jerk. Don’t let situations make you a jerk.
You can change your method, you can change your approach and you can even change your tone. But each of those attempts to correct or handle your situation needs to match up with the qualities that you believe to be true about your character.
Change your method, but still be nice.
Change your approach to get help, but still be forgiving.
Change your tone to seriousness, but still be understanding.
You want to be the type of leader that is consistent in character and the only way to achieve that is by being consistent in character. You can’t control other people and you can’t control situations. The one thing you can control is you.
A great way temper your emotions and attitude, even when it’s difficult and you feel totally justified in your anger, is to use this sentence as a guideline:
“I am going to _______________, because that’s who I am.”
Insert in the blank any of the qualities that you want to be true of you. (Even if they don’t come naturally right now.)
For example, be kind, loving, caring, dependable, honest, forgiving, understanding, patient, etc.
“I am going to treat people well because that’s who I am.”
…Not because they deserve it, not because it’s easy and not because they treat me well.
You treat people well because that’s who. you. are.
When you do this, you start believing positive qualities about yourself which builds confidence and you start living them out in real life – therefore becoming more and more like the person that you want to be.
And it works every time. The situation can change and the other person can change but one thing stays the same. You.
Be who you are.
All of the time.