Succeeding in Relationships at Work and Home
As human beings we're bound to become frustrated, irritable, suspicious, and even despairing. More often than not, the people who this energy rubs off on are those who are closest to us. It could be a husband, wife, best friend, or child. Either way, it’s too often the case that we engage in a way that only serves to drag the other down. Internationally bestselling author and acclaimed Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh calls this "watering the seeds of suffering” and it’s part of your DNA.
Maybe you come home from a hard day's work, tired and irritable and pick up a fight with your partner. Or maybe the contract at work hasn't come through yet so you begin telling a colleague how you really didn't like the way they did that report. There may be some momentary relief because by sharing this negativity we're not the only ones carrying it, but now the other is suffering and now in a weaker state to support us.
The trick here is to find that space between stimulus and response and dip into it, herein lies a choice point to respond differently. This is called The Now Effect. Whether at home or at the workplace, it's okay to talk openly about getting frustrated, irritated, or despairing at times and bring it out in the open that this is a natural emotion in life. If the person you are speaking with his human, there's a good chance they have had these feelings too. By doing this you now make it ok to share the actual emotion when it is arising, rather than taking it out on the unknowing person. This is a healthier way to interact and often times leads to a sense of connection and empathy rather than hate and despair.
To take this a step further, if you an another often get caught in a downward cycle, you can make an agreement where you notice when this is beginning to occur and create some gesture that signifies respectfully noticing that the cycle is happening. In other words, make an agreement not to water the seeds of each other's suffering. For example, if bickering begins, you might both agree that putting up one hand acknowledges this past agreement and that both of you might just take a time out, try and relax, and then come back to one another from a more grounded place. In the past, other people have put up two fingers in sign of peace and yet another agreed to bow to one another in a sign of respect. The reason this can be helpful is that it is often unhelpful to the relationship to communicate from places of imbalance.
This could also work very well in the workplace when people often share negative stories and gossip that in the end only serve to reduce morale and make actually working more challenging. Make an agreed upon sign with your co-workers that reminds you both when this cycle is happening and to nip it in the bud, because at the end of the day it makes the job more difficult.
As always, please share your thoughts, insights, and questions below. Your additions here provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.