How to Appreciate a Jerk
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
Not everyone who treats you poorly is doing so because of you. Their choice to treat you badly is just that, their choice. Sooner or later we all must deal with a jerk. If from the very beginning you remember that their jerkiness is not about you, you are on your way to being able to appreciate them.
Appreciate a jerk? Yes! I ask you take it even farther and develop feelings of kindness towards them and take it beyond the feelings of kindness and treat them kindly even when they are being a huge flaming jerk. First, you must stop thinking of this person as a jerk or as any other negative name you call them. What you want is to use a phrase that is positive, that recognizes that person is providing you with the ability to strengthen yourself and your conflict resolution skills. Or perhaps simply use his or her name. He or she does have a name and to say jerk is dehumanizing and makes it too easy for you to distance yourself from him or her.
Next you must be willing to start the process of being compassionate to this person and this means opening your mind to the possibility that you can and will think positive thoughts about this person.
Take some time and think about this person. Come up with at least three good qualities they possess or three positive statements that you can make about them. OK, now here is where the difficulty might begin. If this person is truly annoying to you, you might not be able to see any good in them. Well I insist that you stay at this step until you can complete it! Some ideas:
1. They have family and friends who love them
2. They are offering you an opportunity for personal growth
3. They are good at (fill in the blank – working out, public speaking, product design…) Now associate their name with the three good qualities or positive statements you have for them. Memorize this information in a statement that is easy for you to repeat to yourself, like this:
Dan is a loving father who adores his children, organizes the company blood drive every year and is giving me an opportunity to become even better at dealing with difficult people.
Next time you encounter Dan (or your difficult person), remember the statement you memorized about them. If you know you are going to encounter them, then repeat the statement to yourself before the encounter. This puts you in a positive frame of mind and you are approaching them thinking about their good qualities, not their bad qualities. While you are with person, keep your positive statement in your mind and when they annoy you or become difficult, keep recalling this statement. (Silently and to yourself, of course!)
If you feel yourself becoming agitated with your difficult person, try to take a deep breath and again repeat the positive statement to yourself before you respond to them. Then recall that you want to move forward with compassion and that this person’s behavior is not about you, it is about them and finally, you can only control your own behavior.
When your encounter with this difficult person ends, be appreciative. I don’t just mean appreciative as in; “I am so glad that jerk is out of my face.” I mean appreciative, as in recognizing that this person is really bringing you an opportunity to grow. And if the encounter went well, be appreciative of your growth. If you don’t think the encounter went well give yourself credit for your efforts and DO NOT GIVE UP! You must be persistent to prevail.