Tis the season to be holly, jolly and happy, but unfortunately a few people out there have not received the message.
Yesterday I saw two guys almost get in a fist fight on the subway platform, until an undercover cop broke them up. The day before, during a big snow storm, I heard one driver yell to another to “watch out, or I will push you into the ditch!” Even though I was not directly involved in either of these cases, I was still struck with a reaction. Actually my reaction was immediately to shake my head and wonder why people would risk hurting themselves or innocent by-standers over something as trivial as their own ego and misplaced sense of competitiveness.
Let me expand my thought process to you on this.
Do I have a healthy ego and strong sense of self? Yes, for sure. I am reasonably confident and assume I can hold my own in any situation. Do I get annoyed or offended if someone does some kind of perceived injustice to me? Yeah, sort of, but not really.
“What kind of strange answer is that?” I hear you scream. It is my reaction to competitive behaviour when I am not involved in a game or sport.
Winter storm driving is not a sport. Shopping is not a sport. Getting in line or queue for the subway train is not a sport. I think you get my point. Competition is for sports and games with rules to follow, to determine a winner. None of the above activities should apply.
I have built up a ‘filter’ so that when something happens to me or around me 99% of the time I do not over-react with emotion and ego, or with a competitive spirit. I do not see it as a contest of wills, of right and wrong, of winning and losing. I instead try my best to empathize with the other person or people, and I give them permission to be a flawed human, just like me. Through empathy I try to connect with them and calmly work at resolving the issue, one way or another.
Empathy is the key to communication. We must try to listen, read body language and see the issue from the other person’s perspective. We do not need to fight, or run away, or apologize, or get riled up with defensiveness. We instead should practice self-control and empathy first.
I know some of you understand exactly what I am saying, and I also know some of you are wondering what happy-pill I just took. 🙂 The truth is (to me anyway) that attitude, self-confidence, self-control, conflict management skills and empathy are huge parts of better communication, and that is why we need to incorporate them. When we get emotional and defensive in attitude, we cannot think as clearly as when we maintain our composure, relate to the key emotions first, then problem solve the situation to a satisfactory resolution.
On a personal note I would like to share something with you. Over 20 years of study and practice in martial arts here in Canada and abroad in Asia have taught me two important things. One: I assume I can fight, and I will always hope to be able to hold my own. Two: I hate to fight, and will do everything I can to avoid it.
Just because I can do something, does not mean that I should do that thing.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you, wherever you are. Enjoy your family time and control your positive attitude, no matter what happens to you or around you.
That will serve you as a gift that keeps on giving, throughout your life, and also for the others around you.
All the best,