How to Give More by Offering Less
Are people crankier these days? Not sure if it’s the pressures of everlasting covid restrictions, the rush to get business done before year-end, or the onset of winter weather and reduced sunlight, but I’m noticing people becoming more short-tempered these days. (Disclaimer: This behavior absolutely does not apply to my wonderful wife, Lydia, who is always cheerful, constantly sees the sunny side of life, and often reads these tips)
In response to this snippiness, despite my temptation to lash back, I’m finding myself forced to bite my tongue and – in the case of written communications – soften my touch on the keyboard. It occurs to me that there are indeed three areas of work and life where it pays to keep our opinions to ourselves…
Politics at work. A sign on a cash register at a retail store states: “Please don’t share your opinions about vaccines. I’m tired of hearing about it.” While I don’t advocate posting that kind of a message, I can understand the sentiments. Expressing political ideologies to customers and colleagues will likely do nothing to change the issue. It is, however, guaranteed to annoy and turn off a certain percentage of people who disagree. Sharing political opinions at work has no upside and significant downside.
Written communications. Assume that anything that you text or email about a person will be read by that person. We all occasionally encounter difficult colleagues, co-workers, and customers. And while venting our frustrations may happen, it shouldn’t be done in writing – ever.
Petty annoyances. Crumbs left on the countertop, room temperature too hot or cold, two squares left on a toilet paper roll, the list of annoyances can be endless. And no one – particularly those you live with – want to hear about them. The reality is these are the people who are most invested in you, and who you’d likely miss the most if something were to happen to them. Feeling annoyed at little things is human. Sparing others from hearing about them is humane.
Sometimes the kindest way to get along and feel more harmony with others is to offer less. Less of our opinions, that is. Remember that often holding our peace, means holding on to peace.
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