I know you, you are a giver. How do I know this? It is a common theme shared by my community members. You might not even KNOW the ways in which you give. Certainly with the year coming to an end you are receiving requests and reminders for charitable donations. And if you are able to make financial donations, that is terrific! But giving is not just about money.
For you, the decision to give is probably easy. It is part of who you are. You want to give, to make a difference, to contribute. The decisions about giving, like how to give, when to give and who or what to give to are not always easy. Did you know that there is a guide to giving? It is called GIVING 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World by Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen. I was GIVEN the opportunity to read an advance copy. What immediately jumped out at me was that this book is like a strategic plan for giving. I ask you to be strategic in your treatment of others, to think about how you want to develop your soft skills, why shouldn’t you be strategic in your giving? And why wouldn’t you want the way in which you give back to make the greatest impact possible?
How and what to give are important decisions. Will you volunteer with your family or with a friend or partner, or will this be something you do by yourself? Will you set up a fund to go to a cause that you believe in? Will you plan a fundraiser? Maybe you would like to start your own non-profit.
GIVING 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World, helps you consider the many options that are available to you. There are checklists and questions to help you to define your strategy and to become really clear about how you want to give, there are action items so that once you make a decision you know how to ‘make it happen’. Perhaps best of all there are the stories about real people and how they have incorporated giving into their lives. These are people like Taylor a twenty-year-old from Los Angeles who asks his family to make online donations instead of giving Christmas presents and Ben, a senior IBM executive and son of an immigrant, who inspires students to study math, science, and engineering. In other words people like you, like your families and like your friends.
If you are curious, be sure to check out http://giving2.com/; you will find some excellent resources to support you. I also want you to know that the author Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen is donating 100% of her royalties.
I thought a philanthropist was someone who was super rich, gave millions of dollars and had entire buildings or wings of buildings named after them. But according to this quote “A philanthropist is anyone who gives anything – time, money, experience, skills, and networks – in any amount to create a better world.”
Guess what? You are a philanthropist.
“Margaret, you share with us these great tips for treating people with compassion. You make sense when you remind us that other people’s behavior is about them. But how are we supposed to really do this in the real world? Especially when someone is right in my face and I just want to yell at them?”
Not only is that a fair and honest question, it is one I hear frequently. If treating others with compassion was easy to do all of the time, almost everyone would do it all of the time. So with that in mind, here are some tips to consider:
1) Select ONE person who is difficult for you and concentrate your efforts on this ONE person.
2) Do not select your absolute most challenging person to work on first. Weight lifters don’t bench press 300 pounds right away, they work up to it. Why should you be any different?
3) 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:
- They have family and friends who love them
- They are offering you an opportunity for personal growth
- They are good at (fill on the blank – working out, public speaking, product design…)
4) 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:
- Difficult 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.
5) Next time you encounter Difficult 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!)
6) 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 only control your 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.
To borrow from some other famous groups and philosophies, you do this one day at a time and one step at a time.
PS. Click here for more support in Dealing with Difficult People.