In this six part mini-series we have talked about how other people can cause us to feel stressed, how we can recognize their disruptive behaviors and how (and when) we can then get them stopped. Just remember a few key points:
- Aggressive people (especially bullies) count on other people’s high threshold for avoiding confrontation. Bullies grow accustomed to “getting away with” bad behavior, with actions that unnecessarily inconvenience others. Bullying in schools has become an epidemic and has resulted in tragedies when the victims commit murder or suicide. But even just a little corrective effort, by lots of people, adds up to lots of positive impact.
- Sometimes, insecurity causes people to overcompensate and cross into aggressive behavior. But we will leave the issue of “cause” for mental health professionals to address. Law enforcement officers will tell you that bullies should be confronted early in their “careers”, when their aggressive behavior is first noticed by parents, teachers or the victims. A society’s tolerance of bad behavior usually lets it get worse because, as with criminals in general, bullies usually just get more aggressive, not less. Just as petty crimes lead to major crimes, minor bullying and “pushing” behavior in a person can lead to the person developing into an increasingly aggressive person who leaves a bow-wave of stress as they plow through the lives of others.
- Each society determines what behavior is acceptable and the people of that society then individually and collectively enforce those norms. Whenever a subset of individuals violates the norms, other people will be at least inconvenienced causing minor stress or perhaps even aggravated causing serious stress and in extreme cases innocent bystanders can be injured or killed.
- To minimize the stress you feel from others, help them learn more friendly, cooperative behaviors. We live in North Carolina and our “Southern” politeness and manners on the highway, in lines at restaurants and when shopping are different than those shown by many visitors who come from just a few hours’ drive north. I often advise my neighbors and friends not to let our Northern visitors’ behaviors cause them undue stress but to instead use the opportunity to gently teach and to demonstrate “proper” manners. For example, you can say “you are most welcome” when you hold the door open for someone who doesn’t even speak to you as they whip through it. And you can graciously let drivers out of parking lots and let others merge into your lane in front of you. You should even move over quickly for an aggressive driver coming up behind you in the left lane, because it is just common sense plus the law requires you to let faster vehicles pass on the left. The result of all this accommodating behavior will be less stress for all concerned.
So now go practice keeping other people from stressing you out! In a future post I will show you how to avoid the most dangerous stress of all – - – self-induced stress!
Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation
—Mack McKinney is on a personal crusade to eliminate conflict and stress in our lives. Mack’s mantra is “People treat you like you TRAIN them to treat you!” His company Solid Thinking Corporation teaches creativity, concept development, relationship management and high-performance project leadership to major US corporations and the US government