Many, many years, ago, on a trip to Michigan, visiting family and friends, I was hanging out with my best friend. In an uncharacteristic outburst, she seemed to snap, raised her voice, and became very impatient with me.
This freaked me out at the time, actually, I drove back to my mom’s where I was staying, and had a good cry over the incident…and of course, I was left a bit puzzled. We had been having a great time, doing our usual goofy stuff we do around town (in the Metro-Detroit Burbs). And then – boom! I found myself being yelled at by this person who I adore. She had never turned on me like that previously, and has not since. Ever. We’ve been friends since 1974.
As a side note, my relationships with my friends are characteristically positive. I don’t fight, argue, or foster any drama. I don’t attract close friends who carry drama around with them, in general. I guess it’s part of my own style of loving my friends. When I love you, I just do. It’s not based on anything tangible/”surface”. It’s all “internal” – like a sort of “soul connection”.
Back to my BFF – once I got some distance, after a day or so of trying to figure out what happened, it hit me: The Grief Process. Her mom had died of cancer the previous year and it was one of those long-protracted battles. There was some personal psychology attached to it as well. Her relationship with her mom was not great in the first place. My mom was still very much alive, healthy, loving, and also wanting me to visit with her on that trip, and my friend just “lost it”, momentarily. My heart broke, once again, feeling terrible that she was triggered by my insensitivity to the “breaking point.”
Everything smoothed out afterwards, and to this day, we remain very close, no matter how much time or distance goes between visits.
What I learned, besides taking responsibility for being insensitive at the time, was that the Grief Process is it’s own “animal”, especially it’s unpredictability. I’ve studied up on it since then, and I’ve learned to cut people TONS of slack for a good, long time after they lose someone close to them, or suffer ANY type of loss, regardless of the relationship.
These lessons have served me in the business world as well. Whether in a corporate situation where people are back-biting, competing, and one-up’ing, or with the small and medium businesses I have worked with, people are people. It sounds so obvious, and trite, I realize.
The thing is, it’s true that we never know what kind of pain people are experiencing on any given day, and what their “triggers” may be, especially in business settings where there is not innate trust or loyalty. So often, human behavior in business situations is dictated by a recent or current personal experience we know nothing about, because in professional settings, we don’t disclose, nor should we disclose, many details.
Be Good To People is a movement that was introduced to me by my friend Ted Rubin, who was wearing the t-shirt you see me wearing in the photo, when I saw him last. This movement, founded by Kris Wittenberg, is the quintessential business model, not just a slogan, that I love to see crop up, which is the reason I’m a fan girl, and I love supporting them. It’s a daily reminder to be considerate. Find out more at: http://www.BeGoodToPeople.com
Being considerate was a concept I was raised with, however, I don’t remember having consistent examples of what that looked like. Until I became an adult, out on my own, and facing more serious outcomes in business and personal settings, the instruction from my elders to “be considerate” was conceptual, at best.
It’s my mission to do a better job each time I miss considering another point of view; without defensiveness, taking time to stop talking/thinking, and listen more. To be considerate is very simple to me now. It means: stop talking and listen. Ask questions. And ask in a pure way – meaning to ask without agenda, just pure curiosity, with a willingness to learn about the other person’s POV (Point of View). Respond, rather than react. Phew! This is saving me some stress!
Can you think of examples of being triggered, or triggered others – to react or behave in a way that would be considered “uncharacteristic”? I’d love to learn more, and have you share here, so that we can all learn more about how to adapt and deepen our relationships, online, offline, and in business and personal life.
Irony: I wrote this post a week ago, not knowing that tomorrow, I’ll be with my mom at the cancer center (with a great WiFi connection so I can work), where she’s starting up chemo treatments again for reoccurring ovarian. I may be a bit exhaustipated, but I will definitely be in gratitude that my mom is the most fierce, ass-kicking lady I have ever known, and she’s trained me well, so, my motto these days is: “Prepare for the worst; expect the best”, because, I’m a realist and an optimist at the same time. This includes being considerate of myself, and putting on my proverbial “oxygen mask” first….can you dig it?