I was talking to someone the other day, let’s call her ‘Gladys’ to protect the innocent and the guilty, and Gladys was bitching about how a health care provider refused to do the appropriate treatment for her, basically out of ineptitude or spite (in Gladys’ non expert opinion).
I offered that the particular treatment that Gladys decided she needed was specialised and perhaps the healthcare provider was truly unable to provide that care at that time but had offered her the next best thing.
I followed it with a statement that “I try hard not to comment on other clinicians work, especially from a distance, and I tend to assume that most people aren’t intending to be dicks, that they are just doing the best they can.” Especially service providers like teachers, police, ambulance, health care etc.
The conversation continued and Gladys threw out another negative comment about another health care provider, different profession, and says he refuses to treat her because he is a prick.
Well, all dispersion and judgements aside, I work and know and love many people who fall into the professional categories listed above and none of them are dicks. They are all trying to do the best that they can, and honestly work with the best of intentions at heart and they are honestly frustrated by any limitations that are placed upon them, either by beauracracy, resources, or outside forces.
Realising that I cop a lot of these attitudes from people I honestly try my best for and knowing how honestly hurtful it is, both personally and professionally, I have lately been examining my own attitudes as well. I am known to not tolerate poor service and definitely not tolerate a provider of any sort failing to meet a minimum standard of delivery of service.
However, as I increasingly re-examine the life the I want to lead and take an active part in MY journey, I realise that the truth is, I can make the most impact on my life, just with stepping to the left, or the right. Or backwards, or forwards, or standing upside down. The truth is, that by shifting your perspective on something, even just for a moment, even just a little distance, can completely change your experience of an event. By giving the other participant the benefit of your perspective change, or just assuming that they are not intending to be a dick, you can change the way you feel, experience, live.
The checkout chick that is not as smiley and cheerful as you expect. Has she got a screamer of a headache, has she just been reprimanded by her boss, is she worried about her kid at school? Maybe she is the one who needs you to smile at her, and just be kind in the way you speak to her. You might be the only positive in her day that day.
The (insert public servant here – teacher, ambo, police) that you are dealing with is just doing their job. Let us just ASSUME that instead of them being a dick, that they are just trying to do their best. Maybe a sincere thanks, or a concession that your child is just one of many issues that teacher is facing today, before including their children at home, their boss, their dog, their stressors, and then see how by approaching the situation a wee bit different ends with a more productive and pleasant experience for everyone.
I have been applying this attitude of empathy or compassion more and more, with wonderful results, both intrinsically and extrinsic ally.
That is, I feel better more often, and I see the positive ripple effect around me more and more.