Sometimes people really irk me. I try to maintain a “live and let live” attitude (“try” being a key word), but from time to time it takes every ounce of self control I have to not blow my top.
Recently, I was in a local store to quickly buy a few things before heading home. The man in front of me in line was nothing short of a jerk. The nice (and very polite) cashier lady offered a few pleasantries to the customer, which he quickly shot back with sarcasm and malice. I physically bit my cheek to stop myself from unloading a few choice words on him.
The entire exchange was horrible to witness, and I can only imagine how it felt to be a part of it.
But why? Why was he so rude to this innocent lady? Nothing on her end of the conversation was anything less than professional and courteous. What did she do to deserve this treatment from him?
The thing is, she didn’t do a single thing to earn the attitude he laid on her. That guy was simply angry at the world and was on a path of destruction, which I’m assuming (hoping?) was unconscious. I told myself that he didn’t realize he was being rude and could’ve possibly ruined that woman’s day.
Here’s the good part: she didn’t let it get to her. She smiled at me, cracked a few jokes about how he must have had a bad day, and moved on. Nothing from their encounter changed the way she treated me. I wanted to high-five her.
It’s interesting to me the powers that people have on one another, for two reasons.
It’s our duty to realize the way we act can affect the people we are interacting with, while at the same time take note of the effect that we allow people to have on us.
Be it that cashier at the store, the customer service representative at the 800 number you’re calling, or the teacher at your child’s school — the manner in which you act towards these people can completely jilt the way the rest of their day goes.
By the same token, it’s important that we notice the effects that we allow other people to have our own lives and realize that we are in control of the intensity of those effects.
Just like the checker-outter lady, those sucky people don’t have to send your day off the edge of a cliff. You have the option of letting their negativity roll off your shoulders, be the bigger person, and feel better for it.
At the same time, as someone who interacts with other human beings on a regular basis, it’s important to take account of your behavior. Don’t lash out on the guy at the gas station because your kid forgot to take their cleats to soccer practice and now you have to make a special trip back home. Don’t make the cashier suffer through a miserable three-minute exchange with you because you’re generally miserable with life. Basically: don’t be a jerk.
Now that I feel as though my ramblings have been sufficient, let me summarize my point…
Be a nice guy, appreciate the other nice guys in the world, and don’t let the mean guys get to you. Teach your children manners and encourage the same from those around you. Don’t allow negative Nancy’s to get the best of your day.
After all, you’re in charge of your own happiness, but you also hold the power to take charge of the happiness of other people.