Being civil towards people you might not get along well with

Choosing to be civil in our interactions with others is not being "fake", it reflects the maturity to recognise that there is nothing to be gained by engaging in a tit-for-tat battle, in your workplace, neighbourhood or place of study.

It is likely that we will encounter people in life who we don’t like and feel frustrated by certain people’s behaviour. We might live next door to them, work with them or even be related to them. However, while other people’s words and behaviours can certainly influence the way we think or feel about them, our actions are always our responsibility.

While other people’s words and behaviours certainly play a role in how we choose to feel or think about them, our actions are always our own responsibility. Sure, you might experience feelings of anger when disrespected by someone but as adults we can choose our response. Will we contribute to escalating conflict, or defusing it?  Admittedly, it can sometimes can seem almost impossible to put up with someone else’s behaviour but there are steps we can take to moderate our reactions. The most effective ones can be practiced in advance.

Managing our emotions and thoughts is essential to controlling our behaviour. Cultivating the ability to wind them back before our reactions lead to trouble can be invaluable when the time comes. As emotional beings, we are powerfully motivated by what we feel but we also have the power to prevent our feelings from dictating our actions. Cracking the moment that things become challenging will get us nowhere. We need to learn to defuse ourselves when triggered. There are numerous methods for calming yourself down, ranging from meditation to counting exercises or self affirmations. You just need to find the one that works for you.

There are a number of simple techniques you can use when confronted by conflict. Try focusing on positives when you are dealing with a challenging personality. Negativity tends to repel people and will only prevent you from achieving the outcome you want. Think before talking and be big enough to admit when you are wrong. Being willing to listen to constructive criticism without flaring up is one way of addressing our weaknesses in order to improve ourselves.   

No two people see the world the exact same way. Even if you don’t agree with someone’s opinion, arguing with them will rarely accomplishes anything. It’s important to accept that other people are going to have different viewpoints to ours and recognise that disagreeing with someone isn’t the same as having dislikes. 

By Grant J Everett, Panorama magazine


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