Wednesday, June 28, 2006

People, problems and attitude

"Separate people from problems. Solve problems. Help people to help themselves."

"Fix problems. Not blame."

What is an attitude? It is our conclusion about certain aspect of a certain person. Bottom line is attitude is a conclusion supported by one or more instances of a specific behavior. What gets termed as bad (or good) attitude is the conclusion we reach about certain set of behaviors that we experience about someone.

So, it is important that we pay attention to behaviors before reaching the conclusion. Like others we are also conditioned to extrapolate on certain patterns of behaviors and jump to conclusion that becomes our definition of certain attitude in a person. Many times it has become associate 'attitude' with bad attitude such as 'he has an attitude.'

Even when we try to change the attitude, we have to change the conditions that motivate the person to change his or her  behavior that would help us change our conclusion thus changing the attitude. It is a long drawn process. We will be looked down or not treated with respect if we can not come up with specific examples of behavior that led us the conclusion of a certain attitude regarding person. "Innocent until proven guilty" is the principle practiced by many. If you accuse someone of some bad attitude, better be ready to support your accusation. Otherwise, we will be told in no uncertain terms to shut  up and put up.

It is more than often that when we start thinking about so called bad attitude, we struggle to come up with enough instances when the specific behavior was exhibited. This problem of ours starts pointing to something in ourselves that is judgmental and too self-willed. Someone else's behavior was not something we expected and hence he has a bad attitude. On very few occasions we can pin point to specific behaviors which are considered generally not acceptable by good majority of the society we live in. That does not make it an appropriate or inappropriate behavior. But, if we have chosen to live in the society, then we can safely make the mistake of coming to a conclusion that a person has bad attitude because of nonconformance to behavioral standards as imposed by the society. Herd mentality. But, if we want to be part of the herd, it does not hurt to have herd mentality, sometimes at least.

It helps to remember that people are not what they look like or speak like or walk like or dance like or sing like. People are not their opinions. People are not their intellect.  People are not their background. People are not anything we perceive to be as people. People are all divine. People are all one. We have to cultivate this attitude to retain respect and compassion for everyone at the most fundamental level. Once we have this feeling that we are all one at the most fundamental level, everything else seems superficial. As we can brush off dust from the surface of an object, we can solve problems or differences which are on the surface. However, we have to first realize that dust is not what is underneath. We have to realize that dust is not our focus but a precious diamond masked by dust is our focus.

While trying to address problems between people, body language and non-verbal cues become very important. It makes a big difference to gather on the same side of the table even to discuss a problem on which we have  differing views with the other person. By being on the same side of the table, we feel that we are on the same side and the problem we are trying to solve is our common opponent. It even helps to have the problem clearly written on a flip chart which is on the other side of the table. On the contrary, by facing each other and having a table in between, we  make each other an opponent. In the process we will end up addressing everything except the problem.

Always be ready to compromise in the interest of bigger good. It goes a long way. By yielding an inch now, you tend to gain a foot later just because the leverage you gain from something called 'goodwill'. The power of goodwill is simply immeasurable. It only compounds with every small gesture. By compromising on things that are not key to your objective, you will yield only a little but something that is so important to the other person. He or she develops a strong sense of indebtedness to you. Even if the other person deserved what you gave up, you could have really made it very difficult for him to obtain it. You could have made the person spend so  much energy and resources to get what he deserved by being an obstacle. By giving up easily, you helped the person conserve his vital resources. Is he not going to shower a fraction of that on you next time? You can bet a farm on that.

Another law of good will is - "best way to pay back good will is to pass it on."  Many times, it is not possible to return the goodwill to same person from which we received. The person may not need it or he is not someone who can be helped in ways we are capable of  helping. But, there are other people who can benefit from what we can offer. It is like  how a candle can pay back to the match stick that lit it. Only reasonable way for candle is to help light millions of candles that be lit from this candle and leverage the power of the single match. Same applies to us and how we can leverage the goodwill.

Same law applies to forgiveness. If we mature even a bit, from time to time, we feel a strong need to seek forgiveness from people and in some cases even animals for all the wrongs we did to them. As in the case of good will, it just is not practical to go back and seek forgiveness from exact people because some of them may be dead or some may even consider us idiots as it did not matter to them at all and they did not take it that way at  all.We can feel good about ourselves by forgiving some of those who are due for our forgiveness.  Is there any dearth of such people in our lives? It is only a ever growing list of people against whom we nurse grudge or resentment etc. By forgiving, we are helping ourselves in two ways. One is  by being forgiven for our sins and other is by feeling  a sense of relief that comes from letting go of things.


Powered by Qumana

No comments: