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There are plenty of skunks among us

Rick Kraft

rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org

If you are going to wrestle with a skunk, you are going to end up smelling. This is a no brainer. We have all been there before. We wrestle and then we stink.
I enjoy interacting with people. There are people whom I enjoy calling or being with and people whom I dread having to contact. Most people are easy to work with. But there are exceptions among us.
Every now and then my life crosses paths with a person who is impossible. I pause and ponder what is going on in their head and why they approached the situation the way they have.
The most neutral term I can use for these people is “difficult people.” They walk among us.
There are times when I have no option but to deal with these people And then there are times when I can choose whether I want to enter into a relationship with him or her or turn and run the other way. You know what I am talking about. You may be thinking about someone right now.
These people “sap” life out of me. Engaging with them lowers my quality of life. They can take me from having a good day down to the dumps quickly. After engaging with them I have to stop my world to reinvent myself and try to get back to where I was before the exchange.
These difficult people see the world differently. You can’t make them happy no matter what you do. As a matter of fact, for some of these people, it doesn’t matter what you do, it is wrong.
It is possible that God put these people among us to make us appreciate the rest of the world more.
These people just want to be unhappy. It is almost like they took an oath at birth to bring down as many people as they can. Further, they want to make you unhappy.
Unhappy people produce unhappy people. Hurting people hurt people. It is the law of reproduction.
I listen to these people and try to understand, but there is a point where I just have to accept the fact that they are who they are and I can’t bring joy into their world.
I often remember it is easier to destroy than to build. There is a poem called “The Wrecker” by J. Homer Allen. It summarizes the message I am sharing.
“I stood on the streets of a busy town watching men tearing a building down. With a Ho, Heave, Ho, and a lusty yell, they swung a beam, and a side wall fell. I asked the foreman of the crew “Are these men as skilled as those you’d hire if you wanted to build?” “Oh, no,” he said, “No, indeed; just common labor is all I need. I can tear down as much in a day or two as it takes skilled me a year to do.”
“I wondered then as I went on my way, which of these roles have I tried to play? Have I traveled along life’s road with care measuring each act with rule and square? Or am I of those who roam the town content with the labor of tearing down?”
It is so much easier to find ways to tear down than it is to build. A person can spend years of his life building carefully only to be torn down by untrained labor.
I think of the wrecker story as I journey through life. Some people seem to exist only to be critical and to tear apart. If all they are carrying is a sledge hammer, they will never be able to build. Building takes more time and more tools. All these people are equipped to do is to swing at others and hope their swing hits it mark.When someone tries to take my interaction with them into the gutter, I try to keep it out of the gutter. I do my best to get it back to a healthy dialogue.
Nevertheless, skunks can ruin my day…that is if I let them. When I leave a smelly exchange I take time to ponder what just happened. I relive the way the exchange began and what I said. If my communication was designed to be healthy and the other person took it to an unhealthy level, I try to “box up” the poor exchange and move on. If my words caused the exchange to go south, I apologize.
When I have to deal with a skunk and I am upset over what they said, I have to remind myself that this is likely how the person conducts their life. I assume the skunk probably deals with others this way also. This would explain why they are not upset over the tone of the conversation. I leave it upset and to him or her it is just another call.
When I come across a skunk I sometimes wonder why they choose to be a skunk. Was it something that happened when they were a child? Did they have a fight at home? Why do they seem to regularly have bad days? I thank God I don’t have to work with them.
My challenge to you today is to not be a skunk. Disagreements and conflicts are a way of life, but handle them in a responsible and respectful manner. You can engage in a dispute without attacking the other person.
If you know in advance you are going to have the exchange, plan ahead on how you intend to clearly communicate the message without taking it into the gutter. If the exchange begins unexpectedly, maybe you need to end it, exit, and schedule a better time to confront the issue so you have time to prepare.
If you have to deal with a skunk, don’t give them power over you to ruin your day or your week. Use “I feel” or “I believe” statements to speak what you are experiencing rather than going after them with a machete. Recognize that some people are just unhappy and they want you to be unhappy also. If you leave the exchange unhappy, use a “time out” and reinvent yourself through self talk so you don’t dump on the person in your next exchange.
Keep your head up. Remember the big picture. Plug forward one step at a time, even if you are smelly from a skunk exchange.
Just a thought…
Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.orgmailto:thekraftlawfirm@aol.com.

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