Is Everything OK?
What do you do when someone snaps at you or reacts with unexpected rudeness? This could be a friend or family member who you know wouldn’t normally act that way. Or maybe they’re a stranger so you don’t know if they’re usually nice or not. Do you snap back? Maybe get defensive? Or do you just walk away and think “Well, if there going to be that way, I’m not going to talk to them!” It can be instinctive to attack back – a fast, easy response that requires very little energy on our part.
How often do you later find out that their unwelcome response had nothing to do with you? Instead, maybe they had run out of willpower because of some other situation that had been dealing with or maybe they weren’t feeling well, or maybe there was some misunderstanding and they felt they had been attacked first.
The other day my husband reacted with unexpected irritation to what I thought was a very neutral question. I noticed my insides getting tight and frustration rising up in me. Then I remembered a new approach I wanted to try. So instead of getting snippy, I asked “Is everything OK?” You can imagine this resulted in a very different exchange than if I’d let myself get defensive. It turned out he was feeling very overwhelmed by a couple of projects he was trying to finish before a deadline. I thanked him for sharing how he felt and offered to help in any way I could. He was grateful and I felt good about our interaction.
Give it a try for yourself. When you want to snap back, catch yourself, pause and ask “Is everything OK?”
Tina Hallis, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and consultant for The Positive Edge. She uses science to help people shift the way they think so they can achieve more success in their work and in their lives.