In Developing Relationships, We Choose How We Treat People
Several months ago, I had a few extremely busy where I was swamped at work and I was traveling all over the world speaking at client engagements. I felt super stressed, exhausted and cranky. In trying to juggle everything I had on my plate, I was also neglecting my self-care regime (you know I’m an advocate for personal care!), which made me even more irritable!
I found myself being increasingly snippy to people around me – particularly to people I didn’t know. I was snapping at my Uber drivers, the customer service person at the airport, hotel staff and more. Because I knew my negative behavior didn’t serve them or me, I’d walk away feeling crappy about how I acted and I could hear the voice in my head lashing out at myself. My internal self-flogging sounded like, “that was a shitty thing you did there, you’re a horrible human.”
I talked to my therapist about how I was treating people when feeling stressed and she said to me “Ritu, you choose how you treat others.”
This was a powerful a-ha moment for me because, well, it’s spot on! We often know when we’re being unpleasant and we can choose to alter our behavior. We can choose to not take our frustrations out on others. We can choose to communicate effectively with others. Even if we’re in a disagreement with someone, we have the power of choice in how to lead a difficult conversation or engage in conflict. In fact, how we speak to others can help build or wither relationships! And relationships are everything for life’s happiness. Whether it’s about how to find love, how to build trust, or how to communicate better at work, know that you choose how you treat people. And all of this impacts your ability to develop stronger relationships.
After having this a-ha moment, and reflecting on what my therapist told me, there are a few things that I now do when I find myself starting to get snappy with others. If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation when you’re stressed, you might also find this helpful.
Take a Pause
You’ll have heard me talk about the importance of taking more pauses in my blogs and videos. The simple act of deliberately slowing down by pausing before you speak can be an effective way to help you communicate better with others. It allows you to stop for a quick moment to think about how you’re feeling, what you want to say, and how you want to say it – all before you actually share. Essentially, by taking a pause in my interactions with others, I’m making better choices in how I treat others.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
I’ve also started to acknowledge and share that I am in a crappy mood. I will say to myself, “You’re on edge right now. You’re feeling frazzled and that’s because you’re stressed.” By being more honest and authentic with myself about what I’m feeling, I’m now better able to shift my energy to self-care practices that will help me to feel better. And these self-care practices ultimately bring me to a place where I can make better choices in how I treat others and myself.
Explore How You Want to Treat Others
The final strategy I’ve started to use in moments when I’m feeling edgy and taking it out on others, is reflecting on how I want the person to feel once I leave our interaction. Wow, what an eye-opening self-reflection exercise! This one step has had a tremendous impact on changing how I treat others. Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself going forward in moments of stress:
- What must this person be thinking about me right now?
- How do I want to treat this person?
- How do I want to make this person feel?
- What can I do to make this exchange go more positively?
When I remind myself that I don’t want to make people feel crappy, I am very kind.
As I’m writing this blog, I have just returned from a stressful week of work travel. Multiple flights were cancelled because of the weather, I spent hours and hours at various airports, and I didn’t get much sleep – oof, was I cranky! But because of the strategies I mentioned above, I was extra mindful about my interactions with others. And now I’m sitting here feeling really good, not only about being back at home, but knowing that I was kind in how I chose to treat others. It’s about the interconnectedness of being.
The next time you’re feeling frazzled, what will you do to check-in with yourself to ensure that you’re being more mindful in your interactions? What strategies will you use to alter how you choose to treat others?