Is It Me Or Them?

Haven’t you noticed that your respect for others goes up when they handle a tough situation with grace? This doesn’t mean caving in or always being agreeable. Nor does it mean aggressiveness or using “power-tactics” to get our way. What is the best way to build your professional presence when the going gets tough?

Take for example, 3 types of situations that drive me crazy:
• When others make promises and don’t follow through.
• When a person argues with me without using evidence or logic – they’re wrong.
• When another person plays victim and/or doesn’t accept responsibility.

I can assume that if only the other people would do what they are supposed to do, it would be the solution. However, I know that these situations are actually triggers for me, and that the true reason I’m emotional is that I don’t feel confident that I can successfully meet my needs. So that is my starting place. This gives me a strong basis of equanimity: personal power, mental calmness, and composure.

It helps me move from reaction to self-composure when I ask myself some questions: “Is this person or thing obstructing my progress, refusing to cooperate, or is my strategy not working?” Then, I take a deep breath and remember what’s really at play.

While it may be true that my strategy isn’t working, this is the trigger rather than the cause of any frustration I am feeling. Every human being has a subconscious need to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. From the moment I “set” my intention to the moment I “unset” it (by achieving it or by dropping it), my subconscious will motivate me to achieve my intention or goal. As a result, I will have feelings of frustration whenever I am failing to achieve this goal and feelings of pleasure when I am succeeding in achieving this goal or another one that I set.

So here are three steps I can take to arrive at a graceful and centered approach to what’s frustrating me:

1. First, I check in with myself to be certain I am truly committed to my purpose and that I truly believe that I have assessed the situation accurately. Our minds can play tricks on us when we have strong feelings.


2. Then, I ask myself: “Is this an attachment to a particular way of getting to the goal?” “Can I let go enough to drop or revise my goal?” For example, when another person makes a promise and doesn’t follow through, I can decide not to proceed on the basis of that person’s involvement. Or I can revise my goal from “achieve this project with this person’s involvement” to “achieve this project with resources I can count on.” Then, I have a basis of equanimity to approach this person – not with anger – but with the intention that I will only work with people I feel are reliable.


3. I use my mental calmness to access a new strategy. Rather than arguing in the face of a non-logical comeback in an argument, I gather my confidence in the evidence and logic of my position. I calmly and graciously ask that person a question that invites them to re-check their information. When faced with a “victim”, I use my questions to generate accountability in them, such as, “so when can you have that for me?” or “what will you do to address that obstacle?” and if I really mean it: “how can I be of some assistance?”


These steps assist me to use my expertise, access my equanimity (mental calmness and composure in difficult situations), and rely on my persistence to see the possibilities when I am faced with opposition and resistance – including my own. I know I can conduct myself with grace – in a respectful and constructive way – and build my professional presence in the face of adversity. You can too!