A New Perspective: Checking in on Your People Problems

By Trevor Throness  |  January 28th

Someone has offended you, or bruised your feelings, or made you mad or baffled you by their outsized and unfair reaction, or disappointed you or rattled you by their rudeness in traffic or … the permutations are endless. Think back on your [people] issues from the past seven days and run it through these filters that I use constantly with clients:

1. Did you make assumptions about the situation?

These assumptions usually begin with, “I’ll bet she said/did that because…” followed by something negative. The negatives are rooted in assuming that the person’s motives were bad—unlike your own—which are typically altruistic and solely for the benefit of humanity.

You don’t know what the other person’s motives were. Often a person’s response to a situation has nothing to do with you at all. Maybe they’re facing extreme stress at home. Maybe they’re involved in a relationship meltdown that you know nothing about. Maybe they have great intentions and really like you, but just forgot to call. Maybe they were in a rush and dashed off an email that wasn’t intended to sound curt. Maybe they’re under extreme stress at work. Maybe they struggle with mental health issues and are in a world of private pain. Maybe they’re in physical pain. Maybe they’re on the brink financially. Maybe (likely?) you and this situation plays a very, very small part in their thinking.

My point is, you don’t know; stop assuming. It only brings you needless pain and leads to constant misdiagnosis.

2. Did you hold the highest thought?

Did you give them the benefit of the doubt? Start there. Assume they’re fine with you until you have concrete evidence to the contrary. Ask them directly and kindly if you wish, but until you know for certain, hold the highest thought; assume the best of them and the situation. Be a mature grown-up. That’s what you’d like them to do for you, right?

3. Did you take it personally?

Stop. Don’t. Quit it. It’s not about you. You can’t control anyone’s response but your own. People act in crazy ways for an impossibly huge variety of reasons. You can’t begin to know what they all are. They’re unknowable. Maybe they’re under stress or have poor people skills, or are in a hurry, or in pain or … (see #1)

If you choose to not take it personally, you’ll have a much calmer, happier life. You have the power to control what hurts you.

Try using these filters to see a better outcome with this week’s people issue. They will make a big difference. I guarantee it.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”— Eleanor Roosevelt