“The most fatal illusion is the settled point of view. Since life is growth and motion, a fixed point of view kills anybody who has one.” ~Brooks Atkinson
About five years ago, I attended what still stands as the most impactful seminar I ever attended. I was attending the seminar with a friend who wanted to go to, but didn’t want to go alone. It was a presentation on how to deal with difficult people, which sounded interesting to me, and I figured I could learn something along the way, so I went along.
It was a short and inexpensive seminar, but there was a lot crammed into that four hours. I didn’t know what to expect, and even after attending, I wasn’t blown away by the content or the presenter; I just knew I had learned something during the session.
It wasn’t until I had some time to think about the presentation that it started to sink in, and then it started to have an impact on me and my life overall. The lessons learned that day proved to be the beginning of this life path that I now find myself traveling, trying to help people live a better life, free of mental mediocrity and full of personal greatness.
Among all the lessons we were taught, there were two discussions that resonated within me the most. The first one was that people have different preferences for how they address and solve problems. Some people are more direct, while some are more indirect. Some people are more social and talkative, while some are less talkative and pay more attention to details and the pursuit of perfection. Some people are great with brainstorming ideas and coming up with possible solutions quickly, while others need to take some time away to really think things through. This really spoke to me because I had always been one who prefers to observe and reflect before doing anything, and finally I understood why. (This was essentially the DISC profile system, in case you want to Google it and learn more about it yourself). I also realized that I had to stop thinking about how I liked to be treated, and start thinking about how others like to be treated. Dr. Tony Alessandra calls it the “Platinum Rule.” The rule states, “Treat others as they would like to be treated.” It’s a great rule to live by!
The second major takeaway that I got from that seminar, and the one that was a complete paradigm shift was in regard to the topic of the seminar itself, which involved dealing with difficult people.
This second lesson was simple, but powerful…While some people may present themselves as a “difficult” person, you may present as a “difficult” person to someone else. In other words, labeling someone as a “difficult” person is judgmental — it’s a label — and it’s purely opinion. It’s not a fact. It’s important to realize that we are not perfect, and while others may cause us difficulty, it may be us who causes difficulty for other people.
I’ll never forget that lesson, and it has changed my life ever since.
An opinion is only an opinion. A judgment is just a judgment, and it is only a matter of perspective. I learned that day that I cannot consider myself “above” or “better” than anyone else, nor can I assume that I never cause others difficulty. I have to remember that I need to apply the “Platinum Rule” on a daily basis, and I have to remember to be careful to label others negatively without considering that I may be labeled the same by others.
It turns out this short and inexpensive seminar was probably the biggest bang for my buck to date for personal development! It just goes to show that sometimes the best lessons come from the most unlikely of sources!
These two lessons have profoundly impacted my life for the better, and I hope that you find them to be just as beneficial and impactful in your life!