She lied right to your face, he didn’t take responsibility for the screw-up at the shoot, and the project manager blames everyone else when she’s the one who can’t seem to, well… manage. If only people weren’t so unreliable! Or, as I now like to call it—messy. What can we do when we have to work with the obvious shortcomings of those around us?
During my European trip this year I was thrown back into long-standing family issues. You know the kind I am talking about. That thing with Mom, and that other thing between the brother and the sister. All families have these “things” and I’m sure we can agree they are emotionally draining.
I had several conversations during my trip with the man in my life to get the support I needed while under duress. After I recounted the scenarios and conversations for the third time, he very patiently said, “People are messy.”
A light bulb went on. Could this be the secret for dealing with all the difficult, unreliable, and ignorant people in our careers and personal lives?
Here is how it helped me. For the first week of my trip, I was driving myself crazy trying to fix these issues that tear at the family bond. I somehow created a movie script in my head that starred me as the rescuer from a faraway land who could make all the problems go away. After a week of “talking it out” it finally it dawned on me that nobody has changed or will change. Things just are the way they are and even when we all do our best, people are still… messy.
(That means even YOU can be messy at times, too. How To Be Happy I wrote that will help you be less messy and more happy.)
How can this mindset help you in your business? We need to stop hoping that clients will act in a particular way or assistants will perform a task exactly how we would. By letting go of those notions, we liberate ourselves from their “imperfections” and our expectations of them. This provides us with two benefits:
1.) We operate on our highest energetic (and spiritual) level when we believe other people give 100% of what they can. This 100% idea was born as I was racking my brain trying to find the right things to say in my laudations to my mother at her 80th birthday party. It dawned on me—she did the best she could and most importantly she firmly believes it. I think most of us feel the same way about ourselves. Let’s honor that in each other.
2.) We shift the conversation from our disappointments to seeking ways to support other people. How can we give more so they can reach their full potential? And if a task wasn’t done correctly, is it possible the person didn’t receive—or we didn’t give—the right instructions?
Disappointments are a natural result when we believe people need to act a certain way and they don’t live up to our expectations. All we get is resistance because, let’s face it, nobody wants to be constantly critiqued. Instead, we want to see the situation from the other person’s perspective and respond with compassion. Yes, people are messy, including ourselves, so let’s take it easy on each other, ok?
Succinct kindness. Well said and never hurts to get the reminder in black & white!
Thank you Heather. We can all use a reminder that it is the small things that bring the biggest joy in life. A kind word, a beautiful sunset, a hug from a small child.