People are different. Different backgrounds, education, cultures, generations and personality types. These differences are most of the time pleasant or pass unnoticed – but sometimes, in particular during stressful times – these differences can lead to an evil Circle of polarization, disagreement, suspicion and even hostility
As a Consultant I’ve seen this happen numerous times and experienced at first hand how destructive it is when – for whatever reason – a working relationship is dysfunctional.
To confront the other person and talk about the issues may seem as the right thing to do, and in some cases it can be. The risk is though that both parties become more “cautious”, resulting in a larger distance between the two.
Another way of dealing with this is to use what is by Buddhists refer to as “loving kindness meditation”
To understand how this works this we must accept two facts: 1) we cannot change others, but we can change our own perception and how we respond to them. 2) how we respond is based on our mental state.
To change perception about someone may seem difficult at first. If it seems to hard to think positive thoughts about the other person, we may actually start by thinking about someone else – someone that we really admire. It could be a Nobel laureate, an athlete or a respected colleague. We think about each of the qualities of this person that we admire for a while.
The next step could be to think about someone for whom we have no particular positive or negative emotions, for instance someone we regularly see in the local store or run into on the street while walking the dog. With the limited knowledge about the person, we may still admire things about them, for instance their great taste in hats or the care they show for their child or pet.
After contemplating for a while all the positive aspects about this unknown person, we are now ready to face the person with whom we have a problem. Very often, it may surprisingly easy to find something about others that we can admire. We could start looking at things we have in common. We may discover that we actually share a lot, for instance being passionate about our work, indulged in a certain profession or specific personal traits like being persistent or having drive. At the most basic level, we are all human beings who eat, drink and go to the loo…
Having identified positive aspects of the other person, the step to giving them a complement or an honest smile may not be long – and hence the first step to turn the vicious circle into a good one.