Relating is the key to thriving at work and in Life

People are people. There are no right people and wrong people. You just either relate to people or you don’t.  
We met an entrepreneur the other day who leads a large organization. He has about 15 people reporting to him. Over the last couple of years that we have known this entrepreneur, he has forever been complaining about the lack of ownership among his leadership team. He is obsessing over how to sack the “laggards” among his direct reports – but, ironically, he hasn’t been able to do anything in that direction. Every time we meet him though, he only keeps complaining, fretting and fuming about his people. In a way, we sense so much negativity emanating from him – it makes me wonder whether he has a problem with his people of if he is the problem?
Contrast this with what Suresh Krishna, the CMD of Sundram Fasteners, shared with me when I met him recently for my Sunday Blog Series – “The Happiness Road”: “There are no right or wrong people. There are just people. And you have to take them along. This ability to take everyone along is what leadership is all about!”
I totally agree with Krishna. Seriously, whether it is in business, at work, or in family, don’t obsess over people and their behaviors. There are no right or wrong people. Everybody is right in their own way. In fact people do whatever they do because they believe what they are doing is right from where they are seeing it. To be sure, even you – or I – do things only from that perspective. So, there is no point in vexing over people like our entrepreneur-friend has been doing. You either relate to someone or you don’t. And people either relate to you or they don’t. And it is only when two people continue to relate to each other that they (can) work with or live with each other. It is, really, as simple as that.
I have learnt to employ a simple thumb-rule: no matter who they are, anyone who I cannot relate to, does not form part of my ecosystem. Whether it is a co-worker, a family-member, a school-mate, a neighbor or vendor, the day I have stopped relating to a person, I just let them go. This is my way of preserving and nurturing positive energy – and inner peace – in me.

When you agonize over people’s behavior, and your unmet expectations of them, you are filling yourself with a lot of anxiety, stress and, possibly, negative energy. This negativity festers in you and makes you inefficient, irate and, believe me, very, very unhappy. The only way to fix this situation is to drop all expectations you have of people, and to simply walk away – or let them go – if you have stopped relating to them. The key to thrive, at work and in Life, is to keep relating, than obsess over the reporting or the relationship itself! 

A few villains cannot ruin your Life’s script

It takes all kinds of people to make this world. Some of them will make your Life miserable causing you untold agony and suffering. It is natural to obsess with them thinking about why they do what they do, how to get back at them or how to get out of their stranglehold.

Sometimes, it may be friend. Or a colleague or boss. Or a family member. Even a spouse, child, parent or sibling. Or perhaps a neighbor. In each of our stories there will be, if you are lucky, one, or otherwise, a few villains. What may start off as a single instance of poor behavior by someone will slowly assume the tone and tenor of harassment. Pretty soon, unless you do something about it quickly, you will graduate from shock to suffering.

So, the question is, how do you deal with such people?

  • Take them head on: When you must speak up, please speak up. Establish the contours of your relationship. Or revisit them if the relationship is an old one. Say what you must say without fear or favor. What is it that you want to protect when you cannot get along with this person anymore in any case? This is not an advice to make the conversation acrimonious or convert it into a fist fight. Focus on the issue that you disagree with __ which at most times will be about how you are being treated __ and don’t necessarily focus on the person. So, don’t return hits below-the-belt with more hits below-the-belt. Instead, be firm __ with reason, with respect and refuse to accept what’s not acceptable per your view. Difficult conversations are difficult only till such time that you have not had them. The moment you have the conversation, it stops being difficult to have. It actually makes things better. It may not resolve a conflict, but it makes both parties feel infinitely better! Please know that there is no easy way out here. If you fear the consequences of speaking up, please remember then that you must forfeit your right to grieve over the person, subject or relationship. You can’t not want to speak up and still want the situation or relationship fixed.

  • Send them positive energy: Yes! Send the person in question positive energy. And give her or him all your understanding. Remember that if someone is behaving with you in an unreasonable and often despicable manner, then that person may actually be suffering a lot within herself or himself. That person’s attitude to you is actually a projection of intense inner agony. Forgive the person if you can. But if you can’t get up to forgiveness, at least, send all your positive energy that person’s way! Put yourself in that person’s shoes and see the situation from her or his point of view. If someone is so prejudiced to give you a hard time, and you surely know yourself the best, then imagine how convoluted that person’s thinking must be at the moment? Such thinking needs positive energy to heal. Give of it freely!

  • Stop obsessing over them: For every villain in your Life, there are at least 9 other great souls who make it beautiful. But you miss the majority completely! Your mind’s tendency to obsess with people who don’t care for you__because if they did, you wouldn’t be experiencing them this way!__is ironical. In fact, it is cruel! Look at your Life. So many others make your each day happen with their compassion, their patience and their understanding. Yet you don’t even as much as want to thank them for being there for you. Instead you want to spend all your time grieving over those who have been unkind, unfair, unjust and unavailable to you, when you needed them most? Isn’t that weird? So, focus on the angels in your Life than obsessing over the demons!

Importantly, how you look at people in your Life, counts for who makes up your world. Your experiences perhaps with a handful of people, in your Life’s context, may have colored your view of that world and your fellow inhabitants. Here’s a little secret though: if you actually can get into the minds of all the people you know, a great majority of them__this is shocking but true__are not just not thinking ill of you, they are actually not even thinking about you! So, stop giving your detractors so much importance and stop giving their machinations any attention. Celebrate instead those who make a difference to your Life every day. Remember, a few villains cannot ruin your Life’s script, especially when it has a multi-star cast of good souls in it!