Do NOT compartmentalize how somebody acts toward another person

It happens all the time. You see somebody insulting, putting down, or otherwise starting conflict with another person, and you tune it out, because this doesn’t happen with you and besides, it’s unpleasant to think about.

That other person could just as well be you.

I perceive, in modern society, a tendency for us to say, “well, that’s his business with her if he acts that way toward her.” Sure that’s true–you don’t know the situation, so you can’t jump to conclusions. But don’t turn your back completely… if you have any significant interaction with the person, keep taking notes in your head. Because at any time, you could be next.

The way somebody acts in a situation is based on their perceptions of that situation. You have no control over these perceptions–they could be pointed at you anytime. In fact, often the person themself has little to no understanding of their own perceptions, let alone control over them. Talking to the person and finding out their rationale for acting a certain way always helps. But certain kinds of activity are symptomatic of someone who doesn’t even know their own rationale yet–specifically, activity that demeans, puts down, or bullies another person.

A truly mature person has no need to put down another. At times they will criticize somebody, sure… but watch how they interact, taking care to avoid directly insulting the person, whether or not the person is there, and usually adding a constructive note to the criticism. The key perception here is this: things can always get better, and I can be a part of making that happen. No matter how angry somebody is with you, if they have this outlook when speaking to or about you, you will feel much more comfortable.

Which brings me to my final point: this principle works in the reverse, fortunately! A giving, compassionate person with others will likely be this way with you. But I think we already know that part. At least I hope we do. 🙂

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