I run into the most obnoxious, unreasonable people around. I used to get incredibly riled up by such people, and i still do, although my self-control is much better, but then you got to ask the question, how come i get so much practice for me to be able to actually monitor my progress in managing such people??
I met one such person just now, a complete stranger. I had three options – play his game and trade nonsensical remarks, ignore him or defuse the situation calmly and reasonably. I can proudly say that i have gone through all three techniques in my lifetime. The first strategy is just incredibly childish, and i am glad i outgrew it in high school. The second tactic was really bad for my heart and my mental health. I may not have brought myself down to the person’s level, but i was certainly brooding intensely over their behaviour, to the extent i get headaches and anger spurts for no good reason. Because of that, i realize ignorance may work for some, but certainly not for me. So i have chosen the last technique – to actively engage the person in a reasonable manner, and to give the person a piece of my mind in a Zen-way. How the person chooses to react would then reflect on him or her character, not me. If he/she is amicable, we end on a happy note from a bad situation. If he/she explodes, i employ my laser gaze and give a look that reads, “Dude, you have issues.” They will be severely embarrassed even if they don’t know it then.
I am still fine-tuning my reaction to such people because it can still be very challenging to formulate words in the middle of the tension when all i want is to slap the person up his/her head.
Anyway, i met such an abrasive character just now, and i handled it well. I had time during that encounter to calm down and think of my reaction. I wondered what my friends would have done if they were in my position. In fact, i called up a friend. And you know what? None of my friends have ever been in such situations. None of them seem to meet caustic people at the rate i seem to be encountering them. So they could not give me any advice. They were just as appalled and as astounded as me.
Because of this constant patronage from nasty people (hell, i don’t even go looking for them; i keep to myself most of the time and apparently according to friends, send out a stay-away-from-me vibe at times), i have developed quite a strong, almost aggressive attitude when it comes to dealing with people who just want to be a hindrance to others. I did reflect about it and i know how this started. I used to be a coffee barista, and my God, some customers can be so full of themselves. I started out meek. By the third month, under the guidance of the more senior baristas, after observing the difference between the baristas who seem to be able to defuse such situations and those who just sank under the pressure, i understood the important distinction. When you are tough, people think twice about crossing your path. After all, those who are on the look-out to bully others have inferior complexes and insecurities of themselves. They need to ride on others to validate themselves.
This way of managing people, i discovered, was applicable in all facets of my life – medicine, sports etc etc. The downside is i scare some people. I think even my own mother. Who thinks i am arrogant. I can live with that, although it really is not my intention to make people afraid of me. But i can’t help what others think.
I was pondering about why i seem to be meeting such people at an exponential rate when another friend offered me two reasons.
Well…i am more of a believer that everything happens for a reason rather than some random cosmic forces working in tandem to ruin my day.
“It’s because you go out and do more stuff than the rest of us, hence you meet more people, and inevitably more difficult people.”
Flattering i suppose, but really i am still puzzled.
Why am i meeting so many terrible people? Am i being prepared for some huge calamity that will befall me? Am i going to have to deal with a whole load of people some time in the future?