Want to undermine the goodwill of people around you? Here are some tried and true ways -
1. Don’t ask for what you want and get cross when you don’t get it (the second part of this is very important).
2. Don’t do what you say.
3. Use ‘idiot’ a lot when you talk about other people (if possible, roll your eyes).
4. If it’s sunny moan about cancer, when it’s raining, moan about the wet.
5. Don’t express how you feel, let your mood (glaring, staring, sighing, fuming, aloofness) do the talking.
6. Don’t notice when people do nice things.
7. Dismiss others’ inputs and if possible, trump them with you ideas.
There’s a little bit of each of us in there, which means we can all do things that undermine relationships.
We may not intend to send people the message they’re disappointing and to blame for how we feel, but sometimes we do.
Some antidotes -
1. Tell people clearly what you expect and make sure you’re speaking the same language. “Call me if you’re going to be late” can mean very different things to different people.
2. Walk your talk. If what you say and what you do don’t line up, change one of them. A bit of inconsistency is human but big gaps undermine your credibility. No trust, no relationship.
3. Restraint and discretion are admirable qualities. From time to time we do meet infuriating people or need to debrief – pick your confidants wisely. But if each meeting, training session, sporting event or dinner party you go to is full of idiots, then some self-reflection may be needed. Sometimes we deride others because we are insecure (even if we deny it). Putting others down makes us feel better than them, momentarily. This behaviour erodes not just others’ goodwill but over time our self-respect. Instead, build compassion for yourself and others by recognizing that we are all flawed. Remember you do not need to be confident to succeed.
4. You don’t need to be upbeat and sugary but be aware that your mood impacts others. There’s a reason others walk out when a doom merchant enters the room. They are exhausting. Here’s how to be more genuinely optimistic.
5. Ask directly for what you want. Don’t assume you will always get it. Be prepared to deal with that – we all have to. Work through a complex or emotionally loaded situation on paper first to get perspective. Your anger may be appropriate but maybe you overreacted? That’s happens sometimes. Writing it out will help you sort your stuff from what is genuinely problematic and where you need to act. When you’re done, tear the paper up.
6. Someone brought you a cup of coffee. They didn’t need to. Someone marked out time in a full diary to give you a break. They didn’t need to. Your favourite meal suddenly appears on the table without you asking. Take notice. Be grateful. Gratitude trains your brain to look for good and increases your wellbeing in measurable ways.
7. Pay attention to other people. Listen. When you respond, acknowledge their ideas and add to, don’t just dismiss them. Even if a view holds little appeal or is outdated, value that someone has taken the time to share it with you. Think – how can I share what I know in supportive ways. Not – “well let me tell you…” Conversation is not a war that has to be won. It’s a means of exchange.
Practised regularly these small actions will help build solid relationships that can withstand the storms and shared defects of being human.
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