I sometimes think too much about things that are small. I can spin on quick, seemingly irrelevant interactions with others. And I suspect I’m not alone.
Like the other day when the person less than 3-feet in front of me, who’d recently passed me, didn’t hold the door. One of the those heavy doors that snaps back hard when you let go. You know the kind.
I get it – this is no big deal – it’s a small thing, but it pissed me off. Yes, I got over it and in the big scheme of things it’s nothing, but there was an impact, not only to the finger I stubbed, but to my mood.
Small things do matter. How we interact in the world, with each other, resonates through the world in ways that we don’t understand, recognize, or can see. If he’d taken an extra five seconds to hold the door for a stranger, that simple act would’ve made a difference. At best, I’d have received a mood bump. At worst, I’d have taken his act for granted. Either way, it would not have given me the opportunity to make a bad choice (yep – no matter what he did, I made the choice to get pissed).
This is one very small, simple interaction. Think about all the interactions we have every day. Many of these interactions are much more significant.
Take an extra 5 seconds to hold the door for a stranger, sometimes it is the simple things that count.
I know that if the person in front of me would’ve taken the time to do this (and had I made a different choice in reacting) I’d have started my day differently. Interactions with others matter – big or small. I’ll take the challenge and try to become a better person today. How about you?
Picture from Etiquette Tips, Bring It Back Now!.
In response to the Daily Post writing prompt on March 5, 2013.
Prompt: Write about the last disagreement you had with a friend or family member – from their perspective.
Most of my disagreements surface at work, many times with my boss. He and I have worked together for over 5 years and know each other well. I also consider him a friend, so here it goes, our last disagreement from his perspective:
Me: “But, reason 1, 2, 3 why this isn’t a good idea.”
Boss thinking: What a pain in the ass. I’m really tired of him arguing with me every time I suggest that we take an approach that introduces any risk. I’m tired of hearing what we can’t do and need to start hearing what we can do.
Boss speaking: “Listen learnrunwrite, this is low-cost, and even if it doesn’t work out, it’s a risk that I’m willing to take. We need a win with this business segment, and we have a chance for this to work out.”
Me: “But, reasons 4, 5, and 6 why this isn’t a good idea…”
Boss speaking: “I get it, but I’m asking you to do this. This is a risk worth taking. If it’s a bad call then it’s my bad call, but we’re going to do it.”
Boss thinking: He means well but he really needs to pick his spots. Learnrunwrite can be too damn conservative and he needs to learn when it’s worth the fight.
At the end of the day I did what I was told. Things have worked out well so far, and I’m learning that I can do two things to be more effective:
- Present things in a way that is less about what we can’t do and more about what we need to do in order to be successful.
- Accept more risk. Manage to it, but things aren’t always going to be aligned perfectly. In order to make meaningful progress, sometimes you need to stick your neck out.
Conflict can be healthy when managed well. Most change and good in the world stemss from different ideas coming together to form stronger ideas. I’m surrounded by people who listen to and respect others, and for that I’m very grateful.