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When People Push Your Buttons

I recently received two messages on the same day with two very different tones.

The first message came from a friend of 20+ years who is also a member of this self-mastery community. She wrote to tell me how much she appreciated one of my recent emails and how my messages challenge her to think about her personal growth. She is also using them to spark discussions with her husband.

Obviously, these types of responses fill me with gratitude. My work helping high achievers maximize their performance in work and in life fills me with purpose and satisfaction. Most days are a quiet, lonely slog, creating content and products that take time to produce. These little glimpses of success from my audience give me the boost of energy I need to keep going.

Several hours later I received another message. This message was also from a friend who I have known for 20+ years, but he is not a member of my self-mastery community. The purpose of his message was to lodge a complaint about an attorney I referred. He wanted me to know that I should not refer this attorney anymore because he was not happy with her service.

Now, let me be clear. Referrals are important. If I refer a professional, I want to know that they did a good job for you. So, when this message arrived, I was stunned. My heart rate elevated and my cheeks got red. I don’t like to receive negative messages. Who does?

Throughout my personal growth journey, I have developed a strategy that helps me deal with negativity.

Observe, Don’t Absorb.

Understand the power of just being still. Don’t respond. Don’t react. Just be. When you hear or read or receive a negative message, don’t take it in. Don’t take it personally. Look at it from a neutral point of view. Sometimes it is a real challenge not to want to jump right in and defend your position or respond with the same negative energy. Taking the time to observe and not absorb requires deliberate practice.

I put the message aside and came back to it the next day, so I could read it objectively, as an observer.

While clearly upset, his complaint didn’t have anything to do with the attorney’s skill, ability or knowledge. He was disgruntled because she did not do what he wanted her to do, how he wanted her to do it, in the time frame he desired. He did not take any responsibility for his role in this professional relationship. He left out the fact that his case was unusual, he didn’t provide proper documentation, and his expectations were unreasonable.

I took a step back and really thought about the message, the sender of said message and the circumstances in this case. I could see that he was venting his frustration about a situation he created and was looking for someone else to blame. So, instead of looking in the mirror and seeing how he is responsible for his actions, he blamed the attorney and he blamed me for referring her.

Observe, Don’t Absorb

Now, I have a choice. How do I respond in this situation? I chose not to respond. I didn’t write back. I didn’t defend my position or the attorney. I deleted his message and moved on.

I made a conscious choice of how I was going to spend my time, energy and attention. I chose to place my thoughts elsewhere.

I can beat my head against a brick wall and spend time trying to enlighten a person who doesn’t want to be enlightened, or I can focus on the hundreds of people who are striving for higher achievement.

Every day YOU can choose where you spend your time, energy and attention. That’s what you can control. When people push your buttons, take a step back and pause.

Will I refer this attorney again? Absolutely.

Will I give my friend professional referrals again? Never.

When you are faced with a highly emotional situation, and you step back to observe and not absorb that emotion, you give yourself the space to respond in a way that works best for YOU.

Observe, Don’t Absorb

Try this strategy the next time someone pushes your buttons.

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