We exist within a system in which we come in contact with different people who come from different backgrounds and experiences. Because of their personal backgrounds and experiences, the people we come across have different attitudes, beliefs and values. We all have a different perspective of the world, and this has been shaped by several factors. This is why we can easily bump heads with each other. The trick is not becoming explosive when you bump into someone who is, well, inconsiderate of your feelings.
Imagine this, for example. You have spent the majority of your day off washing laundry and scrubbing your floors. It has been a gorgeous day and you missed most of it because you were inside, cleaning your home. You don't mind however, because you know your space is clean and a clean house lends to a peaceful mind. Just as you finally plop yourself onto the living room sofa you vacuumed hours earlier, your husband walks in from walking the dogs that rush in behind him, and you realize they have all tracked dirt onto your freshly scrubbed floor. The dogs jump onto your freshly vacuumed sofa, shedding hair all over, and your kids run into the kitchen and tear open bags of chips, leaving a trail of crumbs on the floor and grabbing clean glasses out of the kitchen cabinet to serve themselves fruit punch. The bright red punch spills to the ground and yet when you think it can't get any worse, your husband asks you why you haven't made dinner.
The drama continues, of course, because everyone washes up before bed. As a result, your neatly stacked towels are pulled out of the linen closet and by the time everyone is done washing up, you have a full hamper, no towels, and let's not forget, a sink filled with dishes because of course nobody thought to use the paper plates and plastic cups you stocked in the pantry. You don't know whether you want to cry, whether you want to scream, whether you should do a little of both, or then, as your eyes grow dark and your mind wanders to that dark, dark place, you consider what would happen if you took your keys, and drove off to a far off place where nobody would find you. A smile may come across your face momentarily, but you realize you can't go through with it because you love your crazy tribe of messy ingrates.
Imagine this next example. You're standing behind someone at the buffet counter. You want some of the same green beans the person in front of you is scooping onto their plate. Then as the person is just about to set the serving spoon down, she hacks a lung without covering her mouth. You know for a fact you have just witnessed a mist carrying her germs spraying over the same green beans you were waiting in line for and you have a decision to make. Either you stick your fork into the side of the perpetrator's throat, you yell out obscenities and ask if they were raised by a pack of wolves, or you simply sulk and walk away, green bean-less and disappointed.
These examples aren't enough? Okay one more you say? Sure. How about this one. You have an employee bathroom at work. There are approximately ten people who work in your office. Of these ten people there is one who always leaves urine on the toilet seat. Always. You have even come to find urine on the floor. There are signs all over the restroom walls and on the door, reminding people to clean up after themselves. Yet, this one person fails to do so each time. You secretly begin to investigate who the culprit is and have come down to two possible suspects. You can either publicly humiliate them both, pointing out the evidence you have gathered or you simply let it go. You wipe off the seat each time, deciding it's not worth the trouble, and instead let your secret resentment grow stronger with each passing day.
I could continue with these examples but this is not the objective of my post. The objective of my writing these things is to remind you that 1. You are not alone, and 2. Escape, violence and humiliation is not the answer. Perhaps they may seem to be the best answer at the time however, you have to consider the outcome you are truly seeking. These three things will not get you the outcome you want. Abandoning your family will only break your heart, violence will get you arrested and humiliation will only make you a target. So then, what do you have left? After all, not saying anything is a passive move, right?
First thing we must come to realize is that we are all different people. This day and age, everyone seems to be hustling to get from point A to B. People are not being mindful of what they're doing and sometimes their offenses are honestly not intended to come across as inconsiderate, but they are being mindless opposed to being mindful. Your husband tracking dirt into the home is a perfect example of this. After all, he had to bring the dogs back into the house. It would have been considerate of him to wash the floor after bringing the dogs in but he may not be aware that you are expecting him to do so. In this case, you have to communicate your expectations. As for the kids, teach them to pay attention to these details and to be mindful of their actions. Juice spilled? "Okay, get a paper towel and clean it up. In this house, we clean after ourselves." Dogs tracked in dirt? "Babe, could you please clean up that mess? I just spent all day mopping and cleaning. I just want to relax for a bit." Dinner isn't ready? "Can we order out? I'm exhausted. We don't have money to order out? Okay, well how about pasta and sauce then?" Keep it simple. No need to take it personal. Express and de-stress. And if the individual you are trying to express yourself to is not responding in a positive way, then there may be a bigger problem we can address in a later blog.
As for violence and humiliation, again, there is nothing you can do about other people's behaviors and tossing a sarcastic comment at someone coughing openly is most likely not going to make them change their ways overnight. Humiliating your coworkers will only create resentment and tension in the workplace and the last thing you want is to spend hours out of your day surrounded by hostility. This is where you may need to learn the skill of weighing things out. Does it take that much effort to wipe down the toilet seat? So someone coughed on the green beans. Are there other things you can eat at the buffet? Perhaps you could say something to the restaurant staff? There are always other simple solutions to the problem.
Last but not least, remember-You have absolutely NO CONTROL over the behaviors of others. No control whatsoever. You only have control over your own behaviors. The best you can do is express yourself in a calm tone, because once you start yelling you can bet anything you have to say is out the window. People are not mind readers. Remember they can only determine what they are thinking and even then, they may not be able to figure out what's in their own heads never mind what's in yours. So let people know what your expectations are and then let it go. When this isn't an option, walk away and let it go. Once you have weighed things out in your head, you may realize the problem isn't worth addressing, especially when you consider the source. There are people who simply do not have the capacity to meet our expectations and that is okay. Remember, you can only determine your response to a situation and person. Once you are aware of what someone is capable of, you will begin to lower the bar for that individual, or you may choose to cut him or her out of your life completely.
One more thing-it's not always other people who can be inconsiderate. We may get caught up in our own heads and do things without keeping others in mind. Be mindful of your behavior, and if you realize that you have offended someone, address it, apologize and work on not letting it happen again. We are all a work in progress after all, and maturity and growth is reflected through our actions, not judgments of others.
Any other things that have worked for you when dealing with inconsiderate people? Things that have not worked? Share and comment below!