We’re all in the people business. Meaning, much of our life is centered around relationships – either building them, repairing them, mending them, helping them, and even exiting them at times.
As such, people can often be the source of many of our challenges. Perhaps it’s in the various areas of our disagreement, disregard and/or different perspectives.
Yet, at the same time, the reactions, attitudes, and opinions of others are largely out of our control.
Therefore, the key to overcoming many of the challenges we face with others is in focusing on what we can control – ie; ourselves.
Thankfully, we can learn to control our reactions, expectations, perspectives, attitudes, actions, and even our emotions.
Far too often we allow our circumstances and relationships to control our behavior – and this an easy trap to fall into. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.
For example, I love to watch skilled debaters and negotiators in action. For they have learned the discipline and elite skill of self control. They do not allow their circumstances, or the reaction of others to control them. Rather, they remain in control of their emotions, tone, and projection, and thereby maintain a higher level of influence over a desired outcome.
Again, this isn’t easy, but it can be learned and even the Bible speaks of the value of self control, calm temperament, and discipline.
Frankly, this skill is a work in progress for me, and I’m still a long way from where I desire to be. However, there are some tools we can all apply when dealing with others to help promote reconciliation, peace, and progress:
1. Try to find common ground. Are their any similarities and threads of unity we share?
2. Strive for a win-win outcome. Be an advocate to help both sides achieve some sense of victory.
3. Try to see the other’s perspective and point of view. Why might they feel and act the way they do?
4. Don’t take it personal. Sometimes this is the hardest thing to do – but a counselor once admitted to carrying a QTIP in his pocket to help him remember to: Quit Taking It Personal.
5. Breathe. Sometimes when we’re in tense situations we can hold our breathe and/or forget to breathe regularly. Simply being aware of our breathing patterns can help maintain emotional stability.
In the end, we are emotional people, but we don’t have to let them control our behaviors, actions, and attitudes.
These are things we can control – so with relationships, whether professional or personal, there’s wisdom in focusing on what we can do, and not on the others we can’t.