Every person who gives you a hard time, tries to annoy you, or deliberately goes out of his or her way to make your life hard is giving you a chance to either consolidate what you’ve learned about dealing with people or to learn something new about yourself. Such encounters need not be taken personally for even if offense is intended, it need not be taken.
When such occasions arise, ask yourself: “How can I be a bigger person” – not the bigger person but a bigger person. This distinction is important because handling people rightly, that is, with dignity and genuine care, is not a competition, but an art. It is in many ways the art of living.
I was in the airport recently after a large snowstorm had shut down operations the previous day. The backlog of stranded passengers, dislocated equipment, and tired staff made for an interesting display of both the finest and the worst human beings can offer in a normal social setting.
Some gate agents and flight attendants handled the pressure well, while others were clearly over the frequently rude and demanding passengers. The flight attendants for my flight were late coming in from another flight, but two off-duty flight attendants stepped in to load our flight for their colleagues, which easily saved us an additional thirty minutes wait time. What was even more impressive was that they did this volunteer work with a cheery disposition after what must have been an incredibly challenging day at work.
This not only diffused tensions in the passengers, it set the stage for the other flight attendants to come in and hit it out of the park. Well, they didn’t, but that’s on them and the ill spirits they were worshipping at the time.
So I guess what I learned today, more by observation than by doing, is that you really do have a choice as to how to handle when people are being ornery or disrespectful. You can let it throw you off your game or you can take charge and handle the situation with poise and deliberate action. You need not react and blow up or conversely, fall down in a heap.
As for me, I handled my cancelled flights, secured a flight at another airport, weathered the delays, observed the world around me, and wrote this post so that I could share the experience with you. I say this not to toot my own horn, but to encourage you to take charge in your world by assuming a radiant stance, no matter how badly the deck seems stacked against you at any given point in time.