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Case of the (Motivational) Mondays 10/20/14

Welcome to a Case of the Motivational Mondays!  A weekly series taking a break from strictly clothes and outfits to focus on feeling as good as you dress!  For a more thorough introduction to this series click here and here!

Twirling because it's Monday!!!  Yay!  
Glasses- H&M, Dress- Bernie Dexter, Belt- H&M, Shoes- Nine West

One of my first posts in this series involved a list of ways to try to brighten your day.  That said, sometimes regardless of how much water we drink or how much we fake a smile until it's real, we often have the best of intentions but accidentally hurt people's feelings.  Here's another list, but of ways to check yourself when dealing with people.  The reason why I decided it was an appropriate topic/list for this post is because we can't control how other people treat us.  We can control how we treat other people though, and sometimes that can heavily influence how they treat us in return in a positive way.  And if nothing else, by avoiding some social faux pas we at least won't be "that guy" or "that girl."  If we all played by these rules, we'd be in a much better world in terms of interpersonal interactions, our egos, and the way we communicate!

5 Rules for Dealing with People

1. Before launching into an explanation on how something works or how best to do something, stop and ask the person you're talking to how familiar they are with the subject that you're about to show off your knowledge in.

This is a common mistake, for all of us-myself included- because we get so excited when we've learned something that any chance to show off how the culture works in a city we just visited or our take on what is really going on in the Middle East because of a documentary we recently saw is a fun opportunity.  The problem is that one of two things can happen if you haven't properly vetted the person you're talking to: 1) You put someone on the defense by "assuming" they don't know anything about it or 2) You may actually be talking to an expert who will not so be amused by your ideas from a one time experience or thoughts from a single book you've read.  Think about it, because I'm sure you've been on the receiving end of someone thinking that they're enlightening you but you have no idea how to politely tell them you know all of this and are somewhat insulted they assumed you didn't.  I currently live in Colorado and when people tell me how "east coasters" are I kind of have to laugh, because though I do not read like an east coast girl, I am one.  Another common personal example is when people try to drop fancy psychology words and then proceed to tell me their meaning or explain to me the pros and cons of Islam...when I was a psych and religious studies major in college.  Awkward...for everyone!  And I've definitely opened my big mouth having no idea who I was talking to either!  So whether you traveled abroad to a foreign place once or you read an interesting book on engineering, politely figure out who you're talking to first!  

2. Before telling someone to "look on bright side", maybe ask them why a particular situation is upsetting them first.  

I totally understand this one from both sides.  I'm the queen of trying to tell people to buck up based on true facts as well as the queen of getting totally offended when people try to tell me things will be OK when I genuinely don't believe so.  After some of the health crises I had this year, I realized how belittling it can feel when people act like getting over something is easier said than done.  It's not that things won't improve, as well all know the saying "this too shall pass", but sometimes we have to work through the thicket for that to become true.  When people would try to get me to see the light 8 months ago, what put me on the defense wasn't so much their ideas or suggestions, but that if they had only asked if I had already tried something, if their idea was even an option for me, or why this was hitting such a nerve emotionally, they would have better understood my frustration and neither one of us would suddenly be on the defense.  It's amazing what a difference in the conversation it can make when somebody asks what the options for the individual are and why they're having trouble getting past the negative parts (spoiler alert: it's always deeper than the superficial reason).  It's not that it's so hard to appreciate that your friend is rooting for you and genuinely believes you'll beat whatever odds are ahead of you as much as it feels suffocating to not be understood.  After this experience, I realized that I was probably getting what I deserved as I realized how many times I must have done this to others.  Now when someone is upset at a problem that I may not have all the details to, I still usually launch into some form of a "bright side" speech, but then immediately remember to delicately ask why something hurts or if there's more to story.  We're all complex creatures, and feeling misunderstood kills our ego like nobody's business.  Telling someone to remember that they're not a starving child in Africa or that 6 months from now this won't be an issue anymore next to never really helps.  Everyone's pain is their own, and especially if this is a chance for them to work through some issues, anything short of being heard out feels belittling and isolating.

3. Never use the word "you" in a confrontation.

This one is totally brilliant, but I can't take credit it for it!  My friend Matt said this over a meal with friends a few weeks back and it's been playing in my head on loop like a song stuck in my head.  When trying to explain ourselves to people, whether it's our needs, what makes us mad, or what we expect from them, we all have a tendency to say something along the lines of, "you make me feel..." or "I don't want you to get the wrong idea...".  This. puts. people. on. the. defense!  If someone says to you those things, they're basically setting themselves up to hear you say to them, "Well, when you do this I feel like that" or "How do you know I would think that way?!"  Regardless of who's right or wrong, it become a circular and non-productive argument pretty quickly.  You can still get your point across by saying, "I always feel bad when I'm perceiving to be judged/talked down to/forgotten/whatever, so that's why I react this way."  Without the "you", it's way more effective and likely to be heard, it's less accusatory, and it's a way of preventing a fight from being escalated.  Chances are the person you need to confront will get the message and be more conscientious of how to treat you-all without a fight!  Thank-you Matt for phrasing this bullet point for me!

4.) Let people talk when they're confronting you.

This one takes some patience and self restraint, but it's worth it.  If you've read the classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, you already know this one.  I read it years ago and the more I experiment with the books principles-especially this one- the more I realize how fundamentally true it is.  If people are angry, the main thing they really want is to be heard.  When they're seeing red of course they want vindication, revenge, or gawd knows what else!  But by listening to what they have to say, without cutting them off, making a face, or reacting while they're speaking, you automatically start to appease their ego and start to calm them down.  I said it before above, but here it is again: people want to be heard out!  Even if you disagree with the complaint, arguing will make it 10x worse.  Listen to them, tell them you understand how frustrated they are (even if you don't agree with them, recognizing that it sucks to be so hurt/angry goes a long way and will earn you points), and then (without using "you") say whatever it is you need to say from there in a calm demeanor.  Most of the time when people feel heard they back down and start to feel silly they got so mad in the first place-trust me.  Bonus, they'll be way more game to hear whatever it is that you have to say as well.

5) Never assume you're on par with someone or "normal" comparatively to other people.

Ever been forced to hang out with a coworker or someone else's weird friend who you find a bit annoying?  And then have you ever heard them complain about an arguably weirder/dumber/crazier person, and then they turn to you and say, "Glad we get it!  Imagine if we were them?!" or something along those lines insinuating that you guys are equals?   You feel like you're trapped between an awkward hard place as you politely smile and a wacky sitcom where you can almost feel the audience from their couches laughing at this situation with you.  Here's the kicker though: have you ever been that weird/dumb/annoying/crazy/'other negative traits' friend?  Probably not, right?  Well, if you smiled at that weird coworker of yours and didn't tell them...maybe other people haven't told you when you've done that.  Now, I'm sure you're not that annoying, but we all have quirks we're blind to too.  I almost get self conscious now when I start to make a sweeping statement with even my best of friends about how we would never be so dumb to put ourselves in that dumb of a situation like so and so just did!  Or that we both have tactic and social skills!  I realize, what if they don't think I'm smart enough to avoid this obvious bad decision?  Or, what if that one time I was too tired to be social when their out of town friends visited and I was really awkward actually sticks out in their brain more than all the social wins I've had?  It's great to be confident, but remember that you can't see how other people view you, and chances are they won't tell you about your little benign, but nonetheless quirks that drive them crazy!  None of us want to be the accidental fools, so avoiding sweeping claims about yourself in a positive light, especially involving comparisons to the people you're talking to is the easiest way to avoid being "that guy" or "that girl."

*This can work in a different way too.  While I'm all for offensive and inappropriate humor, be careful about sweeping statements about other people-silly or serious- that assumes other people are just like you.  Meaning, don't make statements about drug users, eating disorders, jailed relatives, people in debt, whatever as if you're talking to people who have never been through any of those situations "just like you" would never be do any other those things.  You never know what people have not divulged yet or are ashamed of, so in new relationships...think twice about projecting what your sense of normal/sanity is on to people so you don't accidentally make them feel bad!  Telling people they're not weird like you, as well as telling them they're normal like you, is often a really bad play.

Hope this helps out in some regard!  We all have areas in our lives where communication can be lacking, but just knowing how to identify the problems and rise above certain behaviors are also my favorite coping methods.  Happy Monday!

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  1. These are some really great tips! #3 is particularly helpful. It's so simple, yet so smart! I'm definitely not going to forget that one (:

    1. My friend who came up with #3 is super smart for thinking up that one! I'll pass it along that he's a genius :)


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