By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson
I recently received the kindest compliment. They told me that they observed that I continue to move forward when things don’t go my way or in the event of a disagreement. It’s an acquired skill that I’ll call for purposes of this column keeping cool in the midst of chaos.
At first I smiled after receiving the compliment, then a perplexed look came over me. Could it be, after taking a number of losses in not keeping my cool when things don’t go as planned, that the lesson of a mature response was sinking in after all?
I cautiously and humbly say yes because, trust me, I can flunk this lesson real quick if I’m not careful. But seriously, I have learned some sobering and lasting lessons along this line.
There was a time I could fly off the handle at the slightest hint of a disagreement or personal disrespect or at the thought of anyone not giving a result that I felt was fair. During those times, I didn’t calmly listen and react. Anger, stern directives and excess emotion helped convey my passionate message and, in addition, it actually ripped relationships in some cases with those I was attempting to get a resolution. After all, the goal was to win the argument, right?
So, while it seemed the problem was temporarily relieved by winning the argument, another issue unfolded. And that issue was that I allowed others’ actions, opinions and judgments to derail me emotionally, especially if they opposed me. I took the bait – hook, line and sinker and ended up losing big each time I went there.
What did I lose you ask?
First, I lost my self-control. Getting angry because of a difference of opinion or methodology didn’t point to a problem with others, it actually pointed to a problem with my lack of conflict resolution skills.
And if you were to answer honestly, don’t you see people differently when they behave and respond in ways that belittle others? I think most of us would say the honest answer would be yes.
Second, I sometimes lost the respect of others who saw that I could go there in a heated moment. And third, I lost potential relationships with people who may have been great future allies.
I could go on here, but I think you’re getting the message.
In the heated moment, it feels like such a win to tell someone off or to verbally spar with you believing you came out on top. But after it’s all over with and done, heated emotional responses combined with disrespecting others will leave you with loss. And here’s the key, that loss may not be evident for some time. But when you look back over your life, you’ll see missed opportunities pertaining to yourself and others you could have cultivated relationships with.
We make too much of “telling someone off” and “giving them a piece of our minds.” Please understand I’m not anti-emotion. But when will we realize that everything isn’t meant for us to take so personally?
Sometimes another opinion or opposing viewpoint is a blessing in disguise, but you have to be open to receive it.
Either way, a person doesn’t have to be destroyed because they don’t agree with you, even if their tone is unfair or unpleasant. Their tone is their issue to deal with. Your response is what is up to you. And I’ll assure you of this. When they see you remain cool and calm in the midst of a challenge, you’ll make an indelible mark that cannot be erased – one that will be for your good. Not every situation or person deserves our negative energy nor our angry reaction.
I’ll share this tip that has kept me grounded in the midst – a cool head always wins the day.
Here’s celebrating your future wins and, as always, I’m cheering for you and just an email away if you need to chat.
Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson is a life coach, author and speaker. Her column appears twice monthly online and in The Birmingham Times. You can contact Keisa at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit http://www.allsheanaturals.com for natural hair and body products.