Over the last few years I read countless amount of educational and self improvement books, went to many seminars, practiced a lot of different approaches to life. Many of those things had a lot of similarities however there is one thing in particular that I personally apply to everything in my life; from my work to relationships with family, friends or business partners. As simple as it sounds, a lot of us forget it in our busy lives.
Event + Response = Outcome
We are faced with a lot of external events every day. Some of them can be pleasant, some of them can be on the opposite side of the spectrum. As much as we cannot control these events, we have a full control on how we respond to them. This is where this simple equation comes in.
During our lives some of us pick up habits which prompt us to blaming things or others for our misfortune or behaviours. We condition ourselves to believing that we have no control over whatever happens or happened to us and the outcome of it. It is definitely an easier thing to do and our mind always takes the path of least resistance so we just go with it.
But do we have any control?
Yes, we do.
Imagine a simple scenario of you with your partner or a friend. Out of the blue they start shouting at you about something that you may or may not be guilty of. (That's our event)
What do you do?
Immediately respond, shouting back or at least continue to have a heated argument. (Response 1)
You're both fully engaged in this argument which just makes you dig deeper and deeper. (Outcome 1)
You listen, rather than respond immediately, you take few seconds to think about what was said and the resources that are required for you to respond appropriately while at all times considering other persons point of view. (Response 2)
You have a conversation about what happened and resolve the issue quickly. (Outcome 2)
The outcome of scenario 2 would vary from person to person, however it is less likely to end in an argument. The moment you take these few breaths before your response you already realise that it is no longer that important offensive or even damaging.
"The aim of an argument, or a discussion,
should not be victory, but progress"
There is a lot of examples of events we can consider. In current day and age, where instant messaging and emails are most popular ways of communication it becomes increasingly difficult not to misinterpret a message. It is of huge importance not to assume that certain things that we potentially faced in the past have exactly the same meaning this time round. As an example, just the other day I sent a message to a friend of mine in CAPITALS. I was on an auto pilot and with a new phone (switched from iPhone to Android!) and I struggled to adapt to a new setting, I just sent it thinking "Ah she knows me, she'll understand"
"What's your problem?" was her immediate response.
I picked up the phone and called her to let her know what happened. We had a bit of a giggle but it just shows you how easily we can misread things if we do not have another persons point of view.
Before you assume, ask. Communication is super important.
Another example, just last week I was walking down the street with a green drink in my hand when all of a sudden a woman who was running frantically bumped into me, making me spill my drink over my new beige blouse. She didn't apologise and just continued running. I was on my way to a meeting so it was not the right timing. Looked down my blouse and at that point in time I just wanted to scream. Instead, I took a breath in and thought for a second. My thoughts could have been anything from "What an idiot" to "What a f****** b*****" however I didn't know what her circumstances were at the time so I chose not to have these sort of negative energy circulate around me, especially before meeting someone new for the first time. When I turned around to see where the woman went off to, I realised she was actually running after a child which couldn't have been older than 3. The boy was jetting off on a little scooter right on to a main road. If I wasn't so focused on responding to my emails at the time I would have noticed and prevented the whole situation just by being aware of my surroundings.
I guess I also learnt something then too. I will not walk, drink and respond to my emails during a school run!(or ever!)
I was just reminded of another situation. A man in a checkout queue was getting increasingly frustrated that an older woman with a young boy was speaking to the checkout clerk after her shopping was done. The older woman handed the child over to the checkout clerk who with a smile just hugged and kissed the little toddler for less than a minute and then handed the child over with a little tear in her eye. When it was the man's turn, he walked over slightly arrogant and a little angry. The checkout clerk said "I am so sorry for the wait, it's the only time I can hug and kiss my son when he's not asleep, my mother has been taking care of him since his dad passed away 2 months ago and I had to return to a full time job"
This situation immediately changed the man's perspective.
Before you go, think about what things you can do today to start working on this. It may be as simple as changing your tone of voice when you speak to your grumpy kids, it could be your tone when talking to a waiter at a restaurant or a staff member at the grocery store who didn't help you in a way you wanted maybe because they had a really bad day.
Maybe you could try it and see if it helps maintaining your relationships and helps you in anyway. I am not saying you will immediately feel different, it will take time to retrain your brain not to automatically react.
Take your time, learn and just be aware of it.
Before you talk, listen.
Before you react, think.
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With good vibes and gratitude,