People love all the time, inherently, no lessons required, yet the world somehow seems short of it.
- Forgive. Sometimes you just have to accept that people are imperfect and will hurt you, and instead of trying to pay them back, or staying angry… just let it go. Act like it never happened. For me, empathy and forgiveness go hand in hand. If I can feel what they are feeling or understand why they are doing what they are doing, it’s much harder to stay angry. I am not in any sense advocating going back into toxic relationships. But even if you cut these people out of your life, for your own sake, forgive them and then move on from the past.
- Have empathy. When someone does something to you, try to think why you would behave that way. Are you grouchy because you didn’t get enough sleep or things are just going poorly? When someone mistreats you, assume the same. If you give yourself grace, (which you do) give others grace. Never assume they hate you. Always assume they are just having an off day, or are nervous or have social anxiety, or are over-thinking. You do it, they do it too.
- Just be kind anyway. If someone doesn’t talk to you, don’t avoid talking to them. Try to make a conversation. For some reason, we are taught that small talk is the devil, but the reality is, small talk helps make connections, so you can have “real” talk. Some people are just shy or feel like no one is interested in what they have to say.
- Compliment people. Sometimes I think I’m borderline creepy with how much I compliment people, but honestly, I like compliments, and it’s an easy ice breaker so I say, go for it.
- Give people a chance. Our society is full of mixed exceptionalities. Just because a person doesn’t achieve a high IQ score, or has autism, or even a physical disability, doesn’t mean they aren’t the sweetest most interesting people in the world. A friend of mine always asks me to fill in greeting cards for him because he can barely even sign his own name, but he is the funniest guy I’ve ever met and totally deadpan. Sometimes he tells the same jokes over and over, because he knows I thought they were hilarious the first time, but my life wouldn’t be so complete if he wasn’t in it.
- Listen. People have stories and they want to tell them. The biggest thing you can do is just listen.
- Don’t judge. You know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t do it. Just because someone does something differently from you doesn’t mean they’re wrong or less than you. The world takes all kinds of people. Someone has to collect garbage, someone has to protect children. Someone has to educate, someone has to sell coffee. Each of us does our job, raises our children, teaches, dresses, eats, in a way unique to us. Love the diversity. Love people.
- Assume good first. No one is perfect. And sometimes people just need you to believe in them in order for them to achieve their potential. When I was teaching, another teacher said to me, “Hold the standard high, children will rise to the standard”. If you don’t believe in someone being their best, they will get their in spite of you, or not at all. That’s no fun.
What other things do you suggest? I’d love to know.