Tiko Aramyan/ShutterstockThere is a time and place for certain behaviors. For instance, here’s how to brag without sounding like a jerk. But your relative, colleague, or boss appears to not have received the memo—and now they’re making your life incredibly difficult. Although you may be tempted to retaliate with some choice words of your own, in the interest of your own reputation, you know you need to control your reaction… stat.
Just two little words could prevent a bad situation from turning into a devastating one, according to M.J. Ryan, author of Habit Changers: 81 Game-Changing Mantras to Mindfully Realize Your Goals. Ryan recently shared a list of the best mantras for dealing with difficult people.
Those two words: “presume goodwill.” And repeating them over and over again in your head could not only control your temper, but it could also have a powerful effect on your own perspective.
Why? “When someone acts in a way you don’t like, it’s only human to make assumptions about his intentions and motivations,” Ryan said. But more often than not, you’re probably wrong. “True, people can be unkind, inconsiderate, oblivious, or downright mean, but it’s rarely intentional,” Ryan said. “Most folks are too focused on themselves to intentionally try to provoke you.”
It might be easy to jump to the conclusion that the other person has it out for us and forget to empathize. But “try defaulting to the opposite assumption,” Ryan said. The words “presume goodwill” are a great reminder that we often only see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to other people’s lives. (Here are a few more tips to being nice when you’d rather be a jerk.)
Of course, sometimes it’s totally OK to be a jerk, too. These are the times when it’s totally within your right to get a little cranky.