Here’s the interpersonal mistake most of us make.
We treat people the way we think they deserve to be treated.
When somebody is cold or rude or uncaring towards us, we vindictively decide that we’re going to teach them a lesson. We’re going to give people what’s best for them. We’re going to show them the light and help them see what we want them to see so they’re never in the dark again. Because we’re the chosen ones.
But that’s not heroic, it’s myopic. It’s a projection of our own standards and expectations and values onto people. Assuming that we’re the final arbiters of people’s need. Forcing our will on the unsuspecting air molecules of people’s brains.
When the reality is, it’s not up to us to determine how people deserve to be treated.
Godin makes this point beautifully in his book about emotional labor. He reminds us:
Fire is hot, that's what it does. If you get burned by it, you can be annoyed at yourself, but being angry at the fire doesn’t do you much good. And trying to teach the fire a lesson so it won’t be hot next time is certainly not time well spent.
Proving, that it’s not our job to change what can’t be changed. It’s our job to see people as they are, not as we wish they would be.
Remember, at the heart of all interpersonal frustrations is the collision of our wishes and other people’s unyielding realities. And so, instead of treating people the way we think they deserve to be treated, we should holster our fingers and treat people the way they say they need to be treated.
Because until we shut up and listen, the vast majority of reality will always remain hidden from our view.
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That Guy with the Nametag
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