You make the choice to be offended. Choose not. When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.
- Tyrion Lannister
Do you honestly believe that you will sail through life with a happy smile on your face and people are all just going to love you and say nice things to and about you? Do you really believe that you can be kind and good to people and they’ll all respond in kind? It would be so nice if this were the case but unfortunately, the truth is that it doesn't happen this way. It has been my experience that people who are hurting are those who respond in anger and they do so even when you try to be kind to them.
Have you ever tried to rescue an injured animal? The animal will often growl at you or even bite you if you come close, even though you are trying to help it.
So, what’s the answer?
I firmly believe the answer is to make a choice to NOT be offended and consistently act in love and offer kindness, even when others are unkind.
If what another says in hurts you ask yourself this "Does it hurt because it’s true?" or "If it is not true, then why am I offended?"
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you navigate this crazy jungle known as life. Understanding how you react in conflict situations will help you in innumerable ways. This man once told me that he will not tolerate conflict at any cost and that statement struck something deep inside me. Tolerance is the very thing that will eventually iron out conflict. We must be tolerant. We don’t have to agree with what others say but we must be open to other views. It’s hard to respond well to aggressiveness and attack but when someone attacks you, and you respond aggressively things begin to escalate. It’s like pouring fuel on the flames.
Kindness is also a choice.
I remember once having to deal with a very difficult client. I used to be in the refurbishment business and refurbished and decorated homes for wealthy clients. Many of them were exacting and demanding but one, in particular, was downright impossible. We’ll call her Mrs. P. One day, my Project Manager called me to say that I better get over there immediately because he was in danger of hitting a woman for the first time in his life. Peter was a gentle soul and I knew it had to be serious if he was talking like this. I raced on over to her home and heard her screaming before I’d even entered the front door. When I walked in, it was to be confronted by a crazed woman with a red face yelling obscenities at Peter and the team because the grout in her bathroom was apparently not light enough. She would not pause long enough to be told that the grout was still wet and would dry a lighter shade. Mrs. P was very wealthy and very demanding. In spite of my consternation, I strode into the room, walked right up to her with a big smile and put my arms around her to give her a hug. She was so angry she actually struggled in my arms but I continued to hug her, making soothing noises like one would to a child and eventually she collapsed in my arms sobbing. I led her into her living room and listened as she poured out her heart. Turns out the grout wasn’t the problem, her life was. She was miserable. All she needed was someone to listen to her. Mrs. P became one of my most loyal clients.
I can’t guarantee you’ll always get this kind of response when you are kind to an angry person but what’s the alternative? If I’d reacted in anger, the situation would only have escalated and I would no doubt have lost a client. I really like this Quote from Kahlil Gibran:
People need loving the most when they deserve it the least - John Harrigan