What to do when other people’s behaviour is bothering you?
What if someone annoys you, shows spiteful behaviour, is plainly vicious, or shows simply unacceptable office politics behaviour?
We’ll show you one way to respond that will always leave you satisfied.
The last of human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. (Viktor Frankl)
You can choose
We say you have a choice. You have a choice between two positions.
One position is to let what you experience dictate what you feel and consequently choose to do. This position means that the circumstances are the determining factor, not you.
The other position is that you consciously decide what the occasion means to you. Then you equally consciously choose how you want to act (note: want to act, not react) in these circumstances. You ask yourself: what are my values? How do I want to act?
If this seems like a conscious construction, you are right. It is a conscious construction. But it is one that will eventually give you the freedom to choose and determine how you want to act in any given circumstance in accordance with your values.
You have the choice to decide the meaning
We propose that not the action done to you has a fixed meaning, but that you decide what it means to you. Of course this doesn’t imply you should condone, excuse or ignore what happened. What happened is what happened. However, how you choose respond regulates the outcome.
Your interpretation (your choice of what it means) determines whether you will act in line with your own values, serving your goal, or on the other hand grant the other person all of the playing field and the choice of the rules. You have a choice how you respond. But it is necessary you consciously exercise that choice.
How do you choose?
Simply said: it is always better to feel good about yourself than bad about someone else.
In order to illustrate it is possible to choose to respond in line with your own purpose and values to even the most negative circumstances we point to the example of Victor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor.
The example of Viktor Frankl
Keep in mind we are seeking a sharp contrast in order to gain clarity and make our proposal doable. The sharp contrast comes from the example of someone who was made to endure great suffering, and yet found a way to find an adequate answer to these circumstances.
Frankl was brought to Auschwitz and survived. Viktor Frankl wrote the book Man’s search for Meaning about this and how he found personal meaning in the experience.. While there, he noticed that notwithstanding the dire circumstances that: ‘Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.’
Frankl found that he still could experience the beauty of a sunrise or feel the love of someone sharing a bread crust and decided that: ‘Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality.’ This is how you can respond, too, if you choose to do so.
What about you?
The power of such a stark contrast is the following. When someone in these indescribably horrible circumstances finds an adequate capacity to decide what those circumstances mean, we might be able to follow this example. There is freedom to be found in how you face aggression, power play or just meanness.
You have the power to decide the position you take when faced with a situation that causes you suffering.
One of the meanings of position is: attitude. And precisely your attitude is completely free for you to choose. It all starts with your choice to find what your answer is.
Do we say this is easy?
No, we do not say it’s easy. As we keep stressing: it’s a conscious choice. You have to be aware of what happens and consciously decide what you want to do. And we all know how easy that is…
However, we have found that talking about your attitude in life and in your work, towards yourself and with other people, how you want to respond to these and other circumstances is very helpful to gain clarity and a way of responding that is consistent with your values.
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If you liked this blog, please have a look at A Magic Mirror to Improve your People Skills. This article shows you yet another way of dealing with difficult behaviour. It’s about Jung’s proposition that everyone else is a mirror of what we think about the world and ourselves.
 ( The quotes in the text are from the book Man’s Search for Meaning.)
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