Have you ever worked for a horrible boss? Have you ever been stuck on a team with a co-worker who is chronically difficult? What about a family member who sets all of your nerves on edge? It would be amazing if you had not encountered at least one of these scenarios, or at least something very similar. In fact you may have encountered all of them.
Here is a trick question for you. When was the last time you thanked one of these pain in the neck people? This might be the part where you ask me something along the lines of, “Why on earth would I thank any of these people?” You thank them for the opportunity they have given you.
What opportunity is that? The opportunity to learn how to deal with people who set your nerves on edge, without losing it, without, well – setting your nerves on edge. You and I can talk about these people all we like. We can share strategies and plan how to react or how not to react to the ‘opportunity people’ in our lives. You and I can read and write all about the best ways to handle people who we would allow to make us crazy.
At some point, all of our discussions need to lead up to actual practice. You don’t become a skilled surgeon just be reading the books. You don’t successfully remove someone’s tonsils just by talking about it. Of course it helps to read the books and talk about tonsillectomies with experts. You become good at tonsillectomies by performing tonsillectomies. You become skilled at handling your ‘opportunity people’ by interacting with them. The more you interact with them the better you will become at developing your technique so that they do not push you to or over the edge.
Now you see why I call them ‘opportunity people’ and why I suggest that you and I can say to them, ‘Thanks for the opportunity.’ As annoying as they might be, you and I will not grow without them. Let’s offer thanks for the opportunity to interact with the people who get on our nerves. Of course I really mean silent thanks. Each time you deal with one of these people, I encourage you to give be appreciative of how those interactions make you a stronger person.
If you really do thank one of your ‘opportunity people’, then good for you. At least good for you if you can say thank you to them, without any trace of sarcasm or hostility. I suppose if you do it might come as surprise to them and they might not know how to take it.
Let’s thank our opportunity people.