GOOD L~U~C DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE

Last week, I spoke before a group of business professionals about dealing with difficult people. It seems that no matter where we are in life, whether at home with our families, in social settings, at work, or just out and about, we encounter challenging and obnoxious people. The first issue we must identify, however, is who the insufferable person is. Look in the mirror. Is the reflection one that others would label demanding, obstinate, stubborn, unmanageable or irritable? While it is not always easy to recognize our own imperfections, it is absolutely critical that we do so first. For if in fact, we are the one who is creating the difficulty, then a simple adjustment on our part can alleviate the problem and enable greater ease and cooperation with others. Remember Ghandi’s words: “I must first be the change I want to see in others.” If you are uncertain as to whether or not the issue is you, ask others for their assessment and input. Then listen open-mindedly to their response.

Having established that you are indeed the thoughtful and cooperative person, you realize that you seem to be a magnet for problematic people. Argumentative, stubborn, demanding, arrogant – whatever the nature of their behaviors – sometimes we are obliged to interact with them and do not have the option of disengaging. In such cases, is there a way we can collaborate with them that will make matters easier for all parties? Absolutely. It just takes a bit of Good L~U~C.

1. Listen. Very often, those who test our limits do so because they feel unimportant and are seeking recognition. Every human being desires to be heard, to have someone willing to listen to what they have to say. Whether it’s an opinion, feelings, sharing a dream or goal, discussing a regret from the past, or any other matter, genuine, undivided, from-the-heart listening sends a powerful message to the other party that they matter.

Time is one of our greatest commodities; it is one of the ways we measure what matters most to us. We make time for the people and activities that hold the greatest importance to us. Taking precious time away from a task, another person or even ourselves in order to hear what someone has to say lets them know that in that instant nothing matters more to us than they do. Being heard validates their worth. (Time is money; time is valuable. Therefore, if I give you my time it’s because you are important to me.) This simple act has unlimited benefits to all parties. It can boost a person’s self-esteem, bond both parties long after the experience is complete, offer an opportunity to practice selfless giving and concern, fosters mutual respect, alleviates stress, depression, anger, frustration, loneliness, feelings of isolation, and more. It hones our communication skills, promotes compassion and empathy, builds healthy relationships, and overall makes both parties feel good.
Listen with the intent to understand, not to respond.

2. Understand. In addition to being heard, all humans crave being understood. Listening to learn the facts about a person or issues is a far cry from fully understanding the nature of the matter or how it impacts the other party. Too often, we only listen half-heartedly. Our minds are divided between the person speaking and another interest. We hear their words and may understand intellectually what they are saying. But true understanding goes far beyond that – it also involves empathy, the ability to feel what the other person is experiencing.

In my “15 Minute Conflict Resolution Solution” training that I provide to corporations, I spend a significant amount of time on communication strategies. One of the most profound is something I call “Heart/Brain Communication”. It goes beyond the intellectual understanding of facts and figures and introduces the element of compassion, the ability to feel the feelings of the speaker along with a strong desire to alleviate any suffering they may be experiencing. This brings communication and understanding to a much deeper more personal level. This is what all of us seek.

Don’t misconstrue what I’m saying: understanding facts is critically important as well. So often, when people discuss an issue there is clearly a lack of knowing the specifics of what is being said. Misunderstandings, miscommunication, being vague or ambiguous leads to frustration, increased levels of stress, arguing, possible accusations and false judgments, aggravation, yelling, hurt feelings, and ultimately a breakdown in the relationship. Each of these elements leads to a distrust based not on a person’s deceitfulness but on a lack of clear communication masquerading as dishonesty or lies. Listen to understand on a factual level as well as an emotional one.

3. Cooperate and Compromise. When a lack of trust is not forthcoming in a relationship, whether warranted or imagined, people oftentimes become stubborn, arrogant, or difficult as a means of self-protection. Whether protecting their integrity, their feelings, needs, desires or wishes, their opinions or actions, people do so when they don’t feel safe in the other person’s company. By that I mean, they must know unequivocally and believe fully that they will not be ridiculed or criticized, that their well-being is of great importance to the other one, and that they will not be cheated or betrayed but rather treated fairly and with respect. Once a trust is established, they will naturally become more relaxed and cooperative.

One of the easiest and quickest ways of building trust is by being accommodating from the get go. Search for ways of working with them in a supportive role. Offer to be helpful whenever possible. Be willing to peacefully and respectfully negotiate whatever issue is before you agreeing to make whatever adjustments are possible in order to accommodate their needs and desires. Express your concern for their happiness and well-being verbally and follow through in your actions. Remember, too, that trust is built on integrity and promises kept. One indiscretion or broken promise can completely destroy that trust and it can take a long time to rebuild.

Compromise is another important component of cooperation. Again, people can be difficult due to latent fears they harbor that dictate they will not be treated fairly, that somehow their needs will be considered less important than others or hold no value at all. Making sure that their needs are addressed and fulfilled early on alleviates their concerns and the need to resist or to be defensive. “It is in giving that you shall receive.” Give a little upfront and you will receive their respect, trust, and support in return.

Depending on the nature of the relationship and the issues at hand, on some occasions it is perfectly acceptable to simply walk away from the difficult party and let things work themselves out. In other circumstances one must address the individual and find a way of getting along as best as possible. Don’t necessarily take the easy way out but know when it’s best to stay and when it’s best to walk away.

Remember, “The only way to defeat your adversary is by making him your ally. And you can do so with a little Good L~U~C: Listen, Understand, Cooperate and Compromise.” So Good L~U~C to all of you!

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ROAD RAGE: A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH

Recently, I’ve been driving into NY City to do mediations for a large clothing manufacture on Madison Ave. I used to teach classes at the Learning Annex and some of my son’s doctor’s were in the city as well. However, it’s been awhile and as incomprehensible as it may sound, NY has become even more congested than I remember. Along with additional vehicles, bikers, pedestrians, city workers and delivery trucks comes added frustration, impatience, anger, and rage. Whether in the heart of Manhattan, one of its suburbs, or major highways or bridges, our roadways have become even more dangerous to traverse than in prior years. Along with excessive speed and distracted drivers, aggressive driving has become the norm. We have all witnessed or personally experienced road rage and some have even engaged in it. Regardless of your level of involvement, road rage poses a serious threat to everyone and has proven to be deadly as well.

Stats: According to AutoAdvantage.com the cities with the most number of aggressive drivers are Miami, NY City, Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. Statistically young men are the most prone to road rage. A whopping 56% of men surveyed said they feel more rage on a daily basis verses only 44% of women and are more likely to act it out. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94% of all accidents are caused by driver error and of those accidents, 33% are linked to behaviors assigned to road rage. In the1990’s AAA found that aggressive driving was linked to 218 deaths and shockingly that number has been rising by 7% each year. Half of all drivers subjected to another driver’s anger admitted to retaliating. Tragically, injury or death can occur even after the incident on the road is over. Drivers have been known to continue their anger even after the initial incident has concluded.

Triggers: the most frequent triggers of anger behind the wheel are being cut off, driving slow in the left lane, tailgating, flashing lights, rude gestures, stop and go traffic, failure to signal, careless/reckless driving such as speeding, weaving or frequent land changes, and excessive use of horn.
Be aware that if these incidences trigger anger in you, they will do the same to others drivers should you engage in them. Remember to be courteous to others as you would want them to be to you.

Causes: As with all anger or rage (intense anger), there are many triggers but only three root causes: hurt, fear, or frustration. Many who become enraged feel disrespected by those who engage in rude driving. This is actually an indication of being hurt. To disrespect means to devalue – one feels as though they are less important (in the eyes of the offender) than others are. Very often they feel targeted and personalize the other driver’s bad judgment. Keep in mind that their behaviors have nothing to do with you – behaviors are an expression of who the individual is and what their agenda is. Taking personal offense is the number one mistake people make that can convert any innocent incident into a more serious one.

Fear is another root cause of road rage: those drivers who cut us off or tailgate put us at risk for an accident and/or injury. Also, adults expect that those driving are mature and intelligent enough to know the rules of the road and obey them. When that is not forthcoming, people become frustrated that others haven’t or won’t learn responsible driving, are not capable, or that the system allows incompetent people to operate a motor vehicle.

Remember, too, that all emotions (anger and rage included) are not determined by the actual event but by how we choose to experience it (perception); what we say to ourselves about the situation; our thought process or internal voice. T~E~C~O Magic*: Thoughts, Emotion, Choice, Outcome. We choose our Thoughts which are the predecessors of our feelings or Emotions. Therefore, we choose how we feel about any given situation. Every Choice we make is determined by our Emotions: we act out what we feel. And every action (Choice) creates an Outcome or consequence. Therefore, in order to remain calm behind the wheel, one must continually monitor and choose their Thoughts. If someone is riding my bumper, I can say to myself, “This guy’s a jerk!” and instantly trigger rage. My rage then compels me to slow down my car to agitate him at which point he swerves to get around me, putting others and myself in jeopardy.

Or, I can say to myself, “Maybe he’s late for work and doesn’t want to lose his job.” In this instance, I’ll feel understanding and my reaction will be a compassionate one: I’ll move over to let him pass. Same incident but two drastically different outcomes, all determined by one thing only: my inner dialogue, or Thought process.

Tips if you’re the driver: ~Monitor your thoughts at all times. Remember that positive dialogue creates positive feelings such as understanding, calm, patience, etc. ~Before you react, ask yourself, “If I say/do _____, then _____ may happen. Is that smart, safe, logical, productive? Can I, as well as those I impact, live with the consequences of my actions for the remainder of their lives?” If the answer is uncertain or no, then refrain from proceeding. ~Choose an affirmative alternative. ~Change your perception (thoughts) about the other driver and/or the situation. ~Don’t personalize their behaviors. Remember, it’s never about you. Your actions are about you; theirs are about them. ~Always assume the best; give them the benefit of the doubt. “Maybe they didn’t see me when they cut in front of me.” ~Choose compassion, understanding, patience and forgiveness over rage. Ask yourself, “How many times have I been guilty of this same offense?” ~Always be courteous. ~Express gratitude “Thank God I was paying attention and didn’t hit him when he suddenly slammed on his brakes.” ~Avoid routes that trigger anger, such as high volume traffic, construction, etc. ~Practice deep breathing and/or sipping water while driving to maintain a sense of calm. ~Listen to motivational tapes or soothing music. ~Put post-it notes on your dashboard to serve as reminders to be a safe driver. ~View every driver, even those who are careless, as your mother, father, brother, sister, child or someone you deeply care about. You’ll be less inclined to disregard their safety.

Tips if you are the target: ~Don’t engage. ~Don’t make eye contact. ~Monitor your inner voice reminding yourself to keep calm and act responsibly. ~Remember your first priority is to keep yourself and your passengers safe (safety first). ~Remain focused on the road and driving safely. ~Take slow deep breaths. ~Recite a mantra or positive statement for focus. ~Do not return rude gestures. ~Do not stop your car, follow them, or cut them off. ~Do not roll down your window. ~Do not drive to or in a deserted area. ~Seek immediate help – dial 911 or drive to a well-lit/well-populated area, stay in your car and honk your horn to draw attention to yourself ~Drive to a police station or hospital for protection. ~Avoid! Avoid! Avoid! Immediately remove yourself from any potentially dangerous situation. Give angry drivers plenty of room. Let them pass if they want to. If someone cuts you off, slow down and let them. Do not speed up or obstruct their attempts. Never ever challenge them in any way shape or form. It could prove deadly.

R/D/C Method: Refuse, Diffuse, Choose
Refuse (to initiate or engage in dangerous driving); Diffuse (stop a bad situation from escalating using calming, responsible thoughts and actions); Choose safety over everything else. Make it your sole priority.

Final thoughts: Always choose safety first. Leave you ego locked in the trunk. This is neither the time nor place to become arrogant and self-righteous. As a responsible driver, we are all called upon to engage in safe, lawful driving habits, obey all laws, and extend courtesy to all those we encounter. It very well could be the deciding factor between life or death.

Remember: one bad choice can change your life forever! Smart actions save lives. DRIVE TO STAY ALIVE!

* TECO Magic, chapter 4 in The Secret Side of Anger

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SAVING AMERICA: HOW TO REVERSE HATRED AND RESTORE UNITY

Our country is experiencing the most tumultuous and dangerous period that I can remember since the race riots in the 1960’s. Political dissension, racial profiling, random massacres, gender prejudice, a reckless and deceitful media, entitlement, and more have caused a division of American of Biblical proportions. Some believe terrorism to be the greatest threat to our national security; others say it’s our economy or healthcare system. There are those who claim it’s the political venom that resides in our nation’s capital while some hold our current or prior Commander in Chief fully accountable. Yet in truth, America’s greatest threat today is the hatred and extremism among our own people.

Regardless of what’s occurring in Washington or what is being reported in the news, the division of our great country lies in the hands of each and every citizen. We are the ones responsible for buying into the rhetoric, the lies, and the repugnance put before us. We are not sheep – we are intelligent adults with intellect and free will. We have the capacity to collect data, process it, make distinctions concerning which issues or beliefs are valid, and respond in an smart, fair, open-minded, and thoughtful manner with regard to all parties concerned. It is terrifying to see how easily people are being manipulated by lies perpetrated upon them by one political side or the other or from individual citizens or groups that push their agendas of hatred and bias under the guise of equality and prosperity for all.

One cannot pick up a newspaper, turn on the news, or read social media without being subjected to hatred and divisiveness. Yet to bury one’s head in the sand and avoid facing the reality of what is happening is both unpatriotic and dangerous. This issues will not resolve themselves and will only escalate unless the courageous are willing to take a stand and peacefully put an end to this wickedness.

“All that is necessary for evil to exist in the world is for good people to do nothing.”

Here are some practical suggestions to save America and restore unity:

~ Remember that extremism never works whether it’s in regard to our political beliefs, religious practices, loyalty to our heritage, financial status or any other matter. Extremism causes a distortion of reality. Moderation creates a healthy balance and keeps everything in its proper perspective. Moderation is the solution. Consider your own beliefs and examine them for any radical ideologies.

~ Before spewing hatred of any person, party, or group, consider the impact your words will have on our entire country, including yourself, your children and grandchildren, friends, and loved one. Words are powerful and can easily result in similar actions. Consider that you can only get back in life what you send out into the world. Hatred begets hatred; kindness reaps unity.

~ Disagree without disrespect, hatred, condemnation or violence. Always be respectful to all whom you speak of or to. Disagreements can inspire growth; disrespect and condemnation can lead to aggression. We’ve disagreed peacefully with one another for over 200 years; we can do it again.

~ Listen objectively to both sides of the political agenda and media coverage in regards to policies and what is actually happening in our country. Somewhere in between the extremes lies common sense and good judgment (in regard to creating policies) and truth (in regard to reporting the facts).

~ Discuss, share, and post in person or on social media FACTS ONLY. When sharing opinions be certain to state them as such. Refrain from promoting misinformation by fact checking using reliable sources.

~ Encourage open minded dialogue for the purpose of understanding the other person’s perspective. Remember that each person’s position, no matter how different from yours, is equally as valid to them as yours is to you. If an objective must be reached, agree to some sort of compromise.

~ Go out of your way to extend a kindness to everyone you encounter regardless of familiarity, age, race, nationality, gender, political affiliation, religion (or lack of), and so on. Search for every opportunity and every excuse to perform an act of kindness for someone.

~ Accept what you cannot change. Not everything in life is meant to go your way. Mature, fair-minded adults will find some sort of internal resolution when they concede to the other person or party. Find some way of making good come out of the current circumstances and move on.

~ Realize that sometimes one side must acquiesce so that the other can gain. Remember that the pendulum always swings back in the other direction. Just as in sports: sometimes one team wins and the other loses. It’s a natural part of life. But even in so-called losses, one can extract great value.

~ Promote peace, kindness, cooperation, oneness, forgiveness, acceptance, and mutual respect. Speak it and live it. If what you are about to say or do does not fit into one of the above categories, do not engage in it. Find another option.

Never before in our history have people in this country been so gullible and bought into so many lies and distortions. Our great Constitution begins with the words, “We the people”, not “We the sheeple”. We have always been great innovators and autonomous thinkers. It’s time to get back to who we really are rather than the hateful, gullible, mindless followers we’ve become.

There’s an ancient story about a young man who approaches the great philosopher Socrates stating that he has something to tell him about one of his friends. “Before you impart any words on me,” Socrates said, “it must pass the Triple Filter Test. First have you made certain that what you’re about to tell me is absolutely true?” “Well, no,” the man replies. “It’s just something I heard.” Socrates continued. “Is it something good?” “No, not really”, the man replied. “So let me get this straight: you want to tell me something that you have not verified is true, and it’s also not good news. Is it at least useful to me?” he inquired. “No, it’s not”, the man concluded. Socrates shook his head. “It’s not true, not good, and not useful. Why then would you share this with me? What is your purpose?” The man could not give him a reasonable response. So the question is, would your words pass or fail the Triple Filter Test?

I believe in the basic goodness of the American people and I also believe that there is hope for our great country. But as citizens and visitors, we must all share in the responsibility. To blame others is both childish and irresponsible. So what are you waiting for? Will you be the one to turn things around, to take the first step to restoring civility to America? Will you be the change you want to see in others? I will and I am. I pray you’ll join me. Let’s make our country noble again by making our country kind again.

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. Be great.”

Order The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth @ http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html

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