Get along with anyone? Do I have to?
Here are some good reasons to consider making more peace than war when it comes to interpersonal relationship.
It is easier to succeed in life when you don’t try to go it alone. Personal and professional networks are a goldmine and increasing in value every day as the world becomes more distant and digital. Harmony in relationships brings more mental serenity as being angry, resentful and holding grudges takes a lot of energy. In self help circles there is a common saying “hate hurts the hater” and this is true. I have found that when I invest my energy in negativity, stewing on criticism and plotting revenge it brings down my own energy and will ruin my day faster than it will change the actions of another. Such dwelling on negativity has never lead to a positive outcome for anyone involved and serves to waste time and energy.
Perhaps it is survival linked to rehash conflict, after all evolutionary psychologists note that we are hardwired to remember negative experiences more than positive ones. When life consisted of moment to moment survival this was probably a lot more useful than it is today when being in survival mode can actually be bad for your health.
Getting along with anyone doesn’t mean you have to like, agree with or condone their attitudes or behaviors. By understanding these 3 tips, however, you are on the path to tolerance, harmony and empathy regardless of personal differences.
Next time you feel the urge to criticize or condemn another’s acts, stop and imagine the scenario from a distance. Ask yourself what role you played in the conflict or scenario. The answer may surprise you. Many times we are totally unaware of how our actions are perceived by others. We understand our motivations and assume them to be correct but from an outsider’s view this may not be apparent. Just last week I was sitting in my car on the way to an event taking a meditation break to prepare for a long night of psychic readings. I was jolted out of my peaceful state when the person who parked next to me opened their door slamming it into my car door. I opened my eyes luckily still in a fairly tranquil state and was offended by the fact that the person did not acknowledge having just hit my car. Still at ease from meditating, I walked out to inspect the damage which was scant. Any slight resentment I may have had against this person’s apparent rudeness was erased when I realized that although parked within the lines I was in fact closer to their parking spot than I realized. Taking an objective view of the situation, perhaps the individual should have been more careful or apologized, but all the same perhaps I should have given them ample room to park and leave their car. How much conflict could we avoid if it were a practice to examine our own role in interpersonal problems before jumping to blame or accuse? Meditation, of course, helps foster the ability to act rather than react but it also is a matter of mindset. If it truly is “all about me” then what room have I left for others’ feelings, needs and experiences in my day? Next time you are faced with behavior of another that feels rude, frustrating or upsetting, try to step back and view the scene from a distance looking at your contribution to the conflict. Victimhood is not an empowering stance but accountability is. If we can understand how others perceive us and our actions we can help ourselves find harmony in relationships. This is difficult to do as many of us do not see ourselves the way others do.
Another key to getting along with anyone is finding a point of empathy. I may not like what another person is doing but I can appreciate where they are coming from. This ingredient is missing from many social interactions. We are sometimes raised in environments that foster competition and criticism rather than understanding. True power does not come from intimidating others, but from empathy. Being able to understand the feelings of another without fear of being overcome by their problems or relinquishing your views for theirs is a true sign of an empowered and flexible individual.
When you have begun to open up to empathizing with others it does not mean you have to make excuses for them. It simply means you can imagine the feelings they experience without losing track of your own feelings and standards. A next step beyond empathy deals with understanding the motivations of another. If empathy is the ability to imagine another person’s feelings, understanding another person’s motivation refers to the ability to get beyond emotion and grasp what is driving the person. Again this is not a matter of liking or condoning behavior you do not agree with, but simply an ability to understand what motivation is behind such behavior. As an example I once knew a woman who had a habit of being very intrusive. It was difficult to have a conversation with her let alone a relationship. It was easy to feel badgered or even persecuted by her tendency to micromanage other people’s affairs. As I got to know her better, however, I discovered that she experienced a very traumatic loss of a family member and often blamed herself for not being able to prevent this loss. Understanding her motivation was to feel in control and prevent others from making mistakes that to her felt fatal. Thus her difficult interpersonal manner could be seen as her way of giving what she felt was a gift. This did not mean I had to like these habits, but having an understanding of her motivation helped me not to personalize her intrusive nature as an expression of personal criticism, or an extreme case of nosiness. When we understand why people do what we do we can avoid the mistake of feeling personally attacked or insulted when this is not warranted.
Now that you have 3 tips to help you see conflict differently, you can now add to your charisma by seeking out the commonalities and actively looking for the strengths in others. When the negative aspects of personality are diffused and no longer the focus of interactions, the door is opened for exploration of the special energy that others add to your life.
These tips can help you sort out the root of annoying behavior and relationship conflict. While you may not be able to change the other person, you can at least detach emotionally enough to work together and get along.
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