Bad Habit #8 ~ Thinking/Talking Poorly About Or To Others
When we stepped back and try to understand why people think or talk poorly to others we came up with three reasons.
A dreadful lack of skill in communication. You never learned how to solve differences in a kind way.
A need to discredit another person, or cause harm to anther person. Having a motive to hurt, or defend themselves from hurt, so they hurt first.
A genuine need to be accepted, so they find common humor, evil, etc. to talk about to make themselves feel better.
Why does this habit impede our happiness? I checked our article…
Next time you go out, listen to what people talk about. Are you spending your time gossiping or talking about other people. Unhappy people get caught up talking about other people instead of talking about things such as ideas or current events.
Unhappy people also have a tendency to judge others. “Look what that idiot is doing!. “Can you believe what she is wearing”. If you catch yourself judging somebody you don’t know, bite your tongue. Trashing somebody else might make you feel better for a moment, but all you are doing is masking your insecurities by trying to put them beneath you. Instead, try complimenting others, at first it might be hard, but it will make you feel good and will make you a much more desirable person to be around.
It may seem like a great time….sitting at the Patio Bar playing “fashion police”, or finding a coworker to commiserate with about the state of affairs at the office, and even bringing up past and present sins of the In-Laws every time your husband brings up their names. But it’s really keeping you from enjoying a moment you’re letting slip away while you’re doing something else.
Yep…(hanging my head in shame)…guilty. Although I’ve learned over the course of a few years to keep my mouth shut ’cause you can’t take back words, I usually vent in my head. But every once in a while I’ve been known to let it fly. I’m not a big gossip monger because I learned a very valuable lesson in college when I repeated something told to me in confidence and that person repeated it to the woman it was about. She was distraught, profoundly upset, and I had caused it. I felt shame in hurting her – because I liked her – and swore that day I was done repeating crap I hear.
Now for the rest of my issue here….I want to share a little victory from several days ago. I was texting back and forth with somebody and they were telling me their trials and tribulations with a boss and the boss’ favorite worker. As the text conversation kept going, I was responding to an injustice suffered by the person I was texting with, and started typing “She’s an idiot….” I looked at what I had just typed and, grumbling to myself, slowly backspaced to erase the word idiot. I found another less caustic way to respond.
I’m working HARD on this one – especially when my brain uses a litany of naughty words and descriptives when I’m having an issue with somebody. Yep…I’ve got issues….
This is the first of our “22 Habits of Unhappy People” list that I had to consciously challenge myself to change. It started years ago when I was still working and I had to set the tone for a nontoxic work environment. I remember being at a conference, with other people within the same organization I was at and the keynote speaker was talking about toxic environments. I was particularly interested in the topic because the organization I was with one of the most toxic environments I had ever been in. The speaker went on to talk about, that “one guy” in the office, you all know him by “asshole”. He just seems to spread a feeling of ill will wherever he goes. He’s never onboard with anything and he will tell everybody within listening range how wrong it is. But he’s not really the person making the whole office a sad and sorry place to come to everyday. You think he is….It’s the people who have not leveled with him on his behavior, but have chosen to talk about him behind his back to all the other co workers. They may be right…he is an asshole, but if you stood this guy up in front of everyone here at this conference and confirmed his status of “asshole” what would you have….you’d still be left with an “asshole”. So talking/thinking poorly about someone doesn’t solve the problem…it compounds it. The keynote speaker said, quit taking assholes home with you.
So, I changed his name in my contacts on my phone and I immediately felt better when “asshole” stopped calling me. I developed this visualization technique I use in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep because the “asshole” is keeping awake. In my visualization I offer the “asshole” a ride home and when he’s spreading his “asshole” magic around in my car….I imagine myself pulling over to the side of the road, leaning over him to open his car door (the car is very small in my visualization) and telling him he cannot come home with me – get out of my car…please. I imagine pulling away and watching the “asshole” get smaller and smaller in my rear view mirror.
Now, If I can only do this with the cashier at Bed Bath & Beyond…and our internet company! Repeat after me….I’d rather be happy than right.
A few thoughts that have been helpful “reminders” for me…
1. Other people may be “reflecting” our own behavior back to us…in other words, when we find a quality in another person that we admire, it may be because we share that same quality. However, if someone exhibits behaviors that we dislike, it may be a behavior that we share but we don’t recognize it, accept it or “embrace” it in ourselves.
2. “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
3. In THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE, Stephen R Covey states on Pg. 196…”One of the most important ways to manifest integrity is to ‘be loyal to those who are not present.’ In doing so, we build the trust of those who are present. When you defend those who are absent, you retain the trust of those present.”
This has been an important lesson for me…that’s why I have needed so many “reminders!”
Thank you for your comments and insights, Sue. The quote from Elanor Roosevelt is one of my favorites.
That first comment (above) is mine. I used my PC rather than my iPad and for some reason my name did not get attached. 🙂
Thanks for the clarification, Sue! You always have wise words to add! I so appreciate all the knowledge you share with us!