I was at Trader Joe’s with three items in my shopping basket heading towards the express check-out line when I noticed the woman next in line with at least 30 items in her cart. I thought, “That’s interesting” and chose the next line over.
As I was standing there, a man blatantly cut in front of me with his cart full of wine bottles and a bag of bananas. Again, I thought, “That’s interesting” as he continued his transaction, avoiding all eye contact with me.
Then, as I was leaving the store, I noticed the same man loading his car that was parked in a handicap spot—with no handicap sticker or placard. His behavior in the store made even more sense to me because of a coaching term I learned long ago: How you do one thing is how you do everything. I thought to myself, “People are fascinating,” and went on with my day.
When I shared this story with other people, some were impressed with my self-control, while others wondered why I didn’t speak up for myself. I thought about it and came to the conclusion that I prefer peace over conflict when it comes to small things like how many items are in someone’s cart in an express line, or someone cutting in front of me. They made those choices because of the way they think, and they are not likely to change their behavior no matter what I say or do. Instead of meeting with defensiveness, I chose to maintain my own sense of peace by quietly thinking, “That’s interesting/People are fascinating,” and going about my business.
I wanted to share this story with you now because Thanksgiving is in two days. You may be traveling, shopping, preparing meals with others, volunteering, or sharing the Thanksgiving meal with people whom you let get on your nerves. Then there is the craziness of Black Friday shopping, perhaps more family time, and then travel back home.
Along the way you are likely to meet with people who are in a hurry or who are not considerate of you as they try to get their own needs met (cutting in line, taking the parking space you were waiting for, etc).
You may also meet with people who are so frazzled by their own holiday overwhelm that they truly are oblivious to others around them (blocking the aisle with their cart, stopping in the middle of foot traffic rather than moving to the side, etc).
And let’s not forget the rounds of Dysfunctional Family Bingo that are bound to played at many dining tables across the nation
Instead of getting mad or frustrated with others, try looking at their behavior as “Fascinating.”
Say things to yourself like, “That’s interesting,” or try to guess what they may be thinking that’s causing them behave a certain way. This will help you not take it personally, as it’s never about you anyway.
To some this strategy may seem passive, but I disagree. When I practice this, I am actively preserving my sense of wellbeing. I know I can’t control what other people say and do, but I can control how I feel about things, and I prefer to feel awesome.
How do you want to feel this Holiday Season?
Fascinated or Frustrated?
You get to decide.