Grit and Bear It: Rules To Live By And Making It Easy To Get Along With Everyone
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By mia bolaris-forget
We are all taught from usually very early on that being selective is something we "need" to be, and typically having "discriminating taste" is a good thing. Yet, have you ever noticed that there are some people that despite "picking and choosing" always have a full schedule, social life, and are always busy with family and a vast circle of people they call "friends". What is there secret. Well, it's probably their ability to get along with almost anyone despite differences. But, this "gift" is not one everyone of us is blessed with. Still, the good news is that it is "attainable"...and that success is as simple as following a few simple "rules" or steps. In fact, according to experts practicing this "relationship" protocol can ensure a positive and healthy relationship with almost everyone and anyone.
1. Create "boundaries" and ground rules: Know what is and is not acceptable for YOU and be prepared to discuss it with those in your life. For instance, if your friends drink heavily and you don't like it, make it known that you'll meet them out, but NOT for drinks, but for a meal or a shopping spree, or any other activity that doesn't compromise or interfere with your morals and values. And, don't forget to set the same standards and parameters within your own family. Let people know the conditions under which you are willing to socialize and put the ball in their court. As long as the other person or persons knows and understands what you want, need and expect, it is then up to him or her to show respect by making the "right" choice or experiencing the "consequences".
2. Be prepared to compromise: While most of us may believe that it's all or nothing, especially in areas we feel very strongly about, compromise is often the key to successful relationships. However, you have to know what you are willing to bend on and just how much you are willing to bend before you even start discussing a certain issue. The problem for most starts when the discussion begins and each person sets his or her focus on getting his or her point across and "winning"....and that usually means two people unwilling to keep an open mind, really listen, or even accept that the other person could be even partially right. A Better approach is accepting beforehand that you may not or won't get your way and having another plan for how you can both "win" in the long run. For instance, if you want to see a love story and the other party wants to see and action film, you can either agree to do something you are both happy with (at the moment) or agree to see one film this time and the other person's choice next time.
3. Keep it to a mild "roar": Remember even disagreements can remain discussions or conversations rather than shouting matches. And, keep in mind that just because you get louder than the other person doesn't mean you'll be more effective in being convincing or changing his or her mind. The only thing you may actually accomplish is getting yourself all worked up and more stressed, which we all know is unhealthy, and the other person more "aggravated" and potentially more adamant about getting his or her own point across.
Experts suggest refraining from using accusatory sentences such as those that begin with "YOU", and instead replacing them with sentences that start with "I" and express your feelings and how certain acts, whether they are wrong or right, are affecting you. Experts also suggest staying away from words that are absolute such as always and never that tend to give the other person the impression that no matter what they do or how hard they try, there is little or no hope for pleasing you. In fact these word only serve to put the other person or persons on the defensive and shift his or her focus on how to prove a point rather than on how to adjust behaviour so that you won't feel the way you do when dealing with him or her.
Last but not least try not to use vague expressions of your feelings, such as "I don't know", since they don't give the other person much explanation and can leave much room for interpretation or worse yet, misinterpretation. So, according to the experts honesty is always the best policy as long as its stated politely, diplomatically, and in a way that is not unkind or hurtful. For example...if your friend invited you over for supper but always makes something you don't like, you can simply say, "I would love to, but because of my dietary need, I'd appreciate if you could make something that I can eat/enjoy or allow me to bring something that suits my potentially peculiar tastes or eating habits.
4. Stay cool, calm, and collected: Heated discussions are frequently the precursor to bringing out the worst in all of us, especially when others fail to understand or see our point. And, it's always best NOT to respond to someone else's frustration via frustration of your own. Instead let the other person know that you appreciate him or her listening and by letting him or her know that you "do" understand their frustration and where he or she is coming from. However, do not feel like you have to then agree. Simply state that while you may "understand", you simply don't see things the same way...but that it was never your intention to frustrate or upset. In fact, consider ending the conversation at this point before it gets out of hand and letting the other person know that you'll be happy to revisit the topic at another point when things haven't gotten so heated and when he or she is once again "in control".
5. Say I'm sorry: Sorry is NOT a four letter word, and certainly not a word you should avoid using. Always check yourself during a discussion to make sure you aren't coming across as hurtful, but be prepared to apologize for things that you may have said in the heat of the argument. Don't hesitate, once an issue has been resolved to ask if you communicated effectively and without being "offensive". If the answer to either is "no", then be sincere in your apology and in asking what you could have done or said better and without being "distasteful". If you did or said something you KNOW was out of line...address it immediately and be specific in your apology. If the other person seemed offended, check (immediately) to see if what you are "reading" is correct, and address it right then and there. Lastly, discuss what you feel you (both) got out of the discussion/conversation and how you feel about the outcome, how you got there, and how YOU will try to improve you methods for more effective talks in the future.
6. Jot it down: Believe it or not...jotting/writing things down or writing things out not only helps us commit them to memory, but also tends to lead to long lasting results, somewhat similar to forming a contract. So, when it comes to discussions write down what you've learned, what you've agreed to and what each of you needs to work on to make the exchange more positive in the future. Keep it handy and review it often and don't forget to date the document and have both parties sign it, upon agreeing to it, so that there is no room for future misunderstandings.
7. Agree to disagree: We are all different, and while there are certainly right ways and wrong ways to do things, right and wrong in many arenas is a matter of exposure, experience and interpretation. In fact, most conflicts are negotiable, according to experts. The problem is when we try to change someone on our terms and in our time and therefore threaten WHO (not always what) the person is. Even if he or she is "wrong", he or she will become defensive because your attempts at change may be perceived as an attack on character and his integral being.
For instance, a child who claims he or she doesn't care about school or success, may simply be struggling and may have already accepted himself or herself as part of a group that are not necessarily high achievers. Your efforts to help may be interpreted as you not liking who he or she is, not liking his or her choices, especially of friends, and overall telling the child that you don't think he or she is good enough "as is". Instead, you can support his or her notion that not everyone who does well in school goes on to be a success story, but still let him or her know how important it still is and agree on possibly some extra help, a tutor, or offer to assist in helping your child nurture or hone skills in areas he or she is interested in and excels at, especially if you see efforts and strides in other areas as well. The objective remember is to avoid useless and unproductive arguments and to come to a resolution that benefits everybody.
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