I’ve found myself a bit irritated with people lately, and thought of perhaps writing a “How to deal with Aubrey to stay on her good side” post. Then, thinking further, figured I could expand it to “How to treat people” because, really, these aren’t huge life lessons. Nor are they independent to me. But there ones that in our daily life, often get forgotten or misplaced or looked over as we’re inundated with work and life and tasks and OMFG it is so hot outside right now. I get it, we’re busy, me included. And this is normal; I believe we all intend to treat people well, but sometimes we overcommit and lose sight of priorities and all of the other things that happen in daily life. And God knows I’m guilty of violating every single one of these suggestions, so know that this serves as a reminder for me more than anything else. So, on this hot nearly-summer NYC day, a quick reminder.
Keep your plans. If you say you’re going to go to dinner with a friend, go to dinner with that friend. Make plans, and keep them. Disorganized? There’s this thing called a calendar. Adopt it. Make it your friend. It will help you. Of course, there are occasions when you will have to cancel (a mandatory work meeting, you’re sick, etc.) but try to make that the exception, not the rule. And if you’re prone to overcommitting, as I am, block out a few hours or a few nights a week for you. You can always change and ADD plans, but people’s feelings get hurt when they are getting cancelled upon. Makes them feel unimportant. Nobody likes that.
Be on time. After you’ve upheld your plans with your friend, show up when you say you will. Many of us live in big cities with subway delays, traffic, unforeseen situations that will make you tardy. It happens, I get it. But account for that…leave 10 minutes earlier. Bring a book. Read your Twitter stream. Pretend it’s a job interview and act like you won’t get the job if you’re late. It’s always better to be early and bored than late & have irritated your friend. Constant tardiness makes it appear that you think your time is more important than theirs. Again, nobody likes that.
Give people the benefit of the doubt. This one is one I struggle with myself, as I – similar to most people – experience situations from our standpoint. We are the recipient of someone else’s behaviour. But what we’re actually seeing is merely one side of the story; for all we know, their dog may be sick. They may be running late for something. They may have gotten fired today. If someone is not kind or not courteous, try – and it’s HARD AS HELL – to assume the best in them and that they’re getting through the day the best they can. Instead of snapping at them, smile, and show them the kindness that you wish they had afforded to you.
Be honest. Nobody likes a liar. Yes, difficult conversations are termed that for a reason…they’re not easy. And yes, you may have to bend the truth many times a day. But then there’s the blatant lies…those are unnecessary. And they usually center around the fear of either having the conversation or the other person’s reaction. But if you’re worried about someone or upset with someone or frustrated with someone, have that conversation. As my friend told me today, people don’t always know what’s going on in your head. It’s your job to give them that insight, as difficult as it may be.
Have the hard conversations. I’ll share a little story. When I was younger (um, as recent as 3 years ago) I was petrified to have the DTR. You know, the Defining the Relationship conversation. What if he didn’t feel the same way? What if I was all vulnerable and opened up and said I cared for him only to feel stupid if he wasn’t interested in what I was? I far preferred the alternative; i.e., the nebulous, let’s keep moving forward and perhaps *he’ll* initiate the conversation when HE knows he is into me enough. Oh, silly Aubrey from three years ago, the time and sadness you could have saved yourself. Basically, trade the possible immediate pain and embarrassment for languishing months in a relationship when one of the people really wasn’t into it. You’re wasting your – and their – time. Time you could be using to do lots of other, better, more exciting things. (Or people. Heh.)
Don’t play games. Especially not with someone’s heart. Enough said.
Be present. Guilty as charged, my iPhone is often at the table during dinner or drinks. I urge you, as I’m trying to do, PUT. IT. AWAY. You are spending time with someone because you want to have conversations with them, want to be there with them. So BE THERE WITH THEM. Your iPhone can wait. That Tweet? Can wait. It’s a distraction. It chips away at the authenticity of your interaction. Try. Then try harder.
And last, but not least, Be kind. Be good. Try to do the right thing. Try to act like you are the role model for your child, even if you don’t have one yet. Act like your behaviour could be reported on the front page of the New York Times. Be thoughtful and proud of your actions. All of which are 100% impossible to do 100% of the time. But try to strive towards acting with integrity more frequently. Try to do better. Try to BE better. That’s something I’m working on myself, and by approaching life that way, I hope that the above tenets fade away and become inherent in the life I’m trying to lead.